Wanted: Have you seen these ‘dangerous’ prison escapees?
Public urged to call nearest cop shop
Caiphus Kwinda, 45, escaped from police custody within a day after being sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 14-year-old girl.
Kwinda is one of a group of 13 dangerous criminals still on the loose after escaping from police holding cells in two provinces including Limpopo and Mpumalanga in recent days.
In the past five years, at least 1,256 prisoners have escaped from police holding cells in SA. Limpopo reflects the highest number of escapes at 230, according to a response to parliamentary questions in May by national police commissioner Lt-Gen Fannie Masemola.
In the past five days about three escapes from the holding cells of Tshamutumbu police station in Limpopo were recorded, while a further 12 detainees escaped from Komatipoort police station in Mpumalanga.
Two escapees were rearrested on Sunday while attempting to cross the Lebombo border into Mozambique.
According to Limpopo provincial spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo, Kwinda was convicted of raping a minor and had just been sentenced to life imprisonment just a day before escaping from custody by crawling through a hole in the cell. He escaped along with accomplices Rulph Chemai, 19, from Zimbabwe and Nemalale Tshilidzi, 34. Both were awaiting trial after being charged with house robbery. Mojapelo declined to give further information as to how the holding cell had been breached saying that was an internal matter.
“Members of the public are warned not to try and apprehend them. Rather call the nearest police station,” he said.
Mpumalanga provincial police spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdluli also confirmed that they were on a massive hunt for 10 suspects who escaped in Komatipoort.
Mdluli urged members of the public to immediately notify police should they spot escapees.
The 10 escapees were arrested for crimes such as rape, robbery and kidnapping and are said to have attacked and disarmed police officers, before making off with weapons including two service pistols.
Some of those on the run in Mpumalanga are Alsido Manique, 24, Francisco Setoho, 38, France Baloi, 29, Smanga Khoza, 50, Joseph Ubisi, 35, Josiah Ndlovu, 30, Ruben Macuacua, 30, Amos Cossa, 25, and Ardemeto Madevu, 18.
Crime and policing consultant Dr Johan Burger said while there had been major improvements in preventing incidents of escapes, recent cases where still a cause for concern.
“The fact that it continues in some places can only point to the fact that police members are not adhering to the instructions with relation to the transport and the safekeeping of prisoners. They are not as alert as they should be and criminals will always be on the lookout to escape,” Burger said.
He said another factor that added to escapes included help from relatives and friends who supply prisoners with tools like saws used to cut through prison bars.
“There are cases where police vehicles transporting criminals are pulled off the road by armed criminals who are freeing their buddies.”
Added to that was the issue of dilapidated police station buildings which made it easy for prisoners to make holes through the walls and ceilings.