News24 | KZN prison escape: Police on the hunt for two fugitives who bolted from outside work duty

Inmates are seen sitting in the male section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre.

Inmates are seen sitting in the male section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre.

Michele Spatari/AFP

  • Two prisoners have escaped while out with work teams in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The prisoners were being held in two different correctional facilities – one in Nkandla and the other in Vryheid.
  • One of the escapees was incarcerated last week.

Two prisoners recently escaped from KwaZulu-Natal correctional facilities while they were out with work teams, prompting the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to launch a manhunt.

According to DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo, the first escapee is 34-year-old Siyabonga Sikhakhane, who was serving a 16-year sentence, of which eight years were suspended, for housebreaking and theft. He had been incarcerated at the Nkandla Correctional Centre since March last year.

The second escapee is 29-year-old Siphamandla Simelane, who was serving two years for housebreaking and theft. He had been held at Vryheid Correctional Centre since last week.

“The emergency support team of correctional services is working together with the SA Police Service in an effort to rearrest the two. The circumstances under which the two inmates escaped are being investigated as they were both out with the spans [work teams],” said Nxumalo.

News24 previously reported that following convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester’s brazen prison break last year, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said out of South Africa’s total inmate population of 157 056, 27 inmates escaped in the previous financial year. He said this represented an escape percentage of less than 0.017%.

READ | Bester and Magudumana threaten court action to stop book release

Lamola also said his department was strengthening security and adherence to standard operating procedures, as “one escape from lawful custody is one too many”.

Bester was believed to have died in cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State in May last year. It was later revealed by a GroundUp investigation that he had escaped from prison and the body found in the cell was that of Katlego Bereng.

Meanwhile, Limpopo police rearrested two other escaped prisoners last week.

ALSO READ | Correctional services dept dismisses rumours that Karabo Mokoena’s killer has escaped from prison

Lewis Magoro, 38, had escaped from police holding cells in Hlogotlou, in the Sekhukhune District Municipality, in May. He was first arrested after being wounded in a shootout with police.

Police also rearrested 35-year-old double-murder accused Thabo Malobela, who escaped from police custody at Sekororo Hospital outside Hoespruit in September. He was under police guard after allegedly shooting himself during his arrest.

News24 South Africa