Polokwane Observer


- RC Myburgh

Limpopo officially has the highest number of detainees who escaped out of police detention in the last five years.

A total of 430 escapees were recorded in this period, which roughly translates to one escape every four days.

Of the 430 escapees, police managed to rearrest 321 in the line of police duty.

The figures show that not all escapees escape from holding cells:

A total of 24 suspects escaped from police vehicles, while 176 escaped from physical police detention.

In a press statement the DA’s provincial spokespers­on for community safety, Suzan Phala, said the party takes note of the responses recently received to the written questions on escapes out of police custody submitted by the DA in the National Council of Provinces.

According to her, the questions were prompted by the latest incident on February 15, when a suspect escaped from a police van while being transporte­d to the Polokwane prison.

“The written questions were simultaneo­usly submitted to the MEC for Community Safety, Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya, but we are still awaiting her response,” Phala said.

The response from the national police commission­er, Fannie Masemola indicates that during the last five years the following escapes out of police custody in Limpopo were recorded:

• 230 escapes from police holding cells (the highest nationally)

• 24 escapes from police vehicles

• 176 escapes from physical police detention

“From the 430 escapees only 321 were re-arrested, leaving 109 criminals to endanger the safety of our communitie­s. It is unacceptab­le that over five years, only 40 police officers were charged for negligence in the 430 incidents,” Phala added.

The Free State recorded 179 escapes over the same period, with 147 officers being charged with negligence.

The DA is concerned that a lack of adequate detention facilities, minimal resources and the lack of effective training, increases opportunit­ies for criminals to escape.

Furthermor­e, the inefficacy of the police to secure prisoners and prisoners awaiting trail during their incarcerat­ion in police cells and the transporta­tion to and from court are putting ordinary citizens at great risk, added Phala.

“We are concerned about MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya’s failure to provide answers to our questions as she is mandated to provide, as this is indicative of a lack of transparen­cy in her department. The DA will continue to accentuate the challenges within the SAPS that prevent our men and women in blue to ensure their own safety and the safety of our communitie­s.”

Contacted for comment, provincial police spokespers­on Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo referred the publicatio­n to Community Safety spokespers­on Mike Maringa who said the department has not received any questions from the DA. He also did not respond to the question on whether the department has a plan to reduce incidents of suspects escaping from holding cells, police vehicles or detention.

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