South African police hunt for prisoners freed by gunmen

Prisoner in jail. [PHOTO/REUTERS]

Prisoner in jail. [PHOTO/REUTERS]
South African police on Thursday said they have launched a manhunt for 16 prisoners who had escaped on Wednesday morning in the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg when 45 trial-awaiting prisoners were being transported from prison to the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

On their way, five gunmen forced the transport vehicle off the road and pointed firearms at the police officers while one gunman opened the rear door of the vehicle carrying the prisoners.

According to KwaZulu-Natal Province, police spokesperson Jay Naicker some of the prisoners remained in the vehicle while others handed themselves over to police at various locations in Pietermaritzburg.

“By late yesterday afternoon, 27 of the 45 prisoners were back in police custody whilst 18 were confirmed to be on the run. This morning, two more were rearrested bringing the total on the run to 16,” he said.

“Whilst our efforts are focused on hunting down these escapees, the escaping is being investigated from a criminal perspective and from an internal standpoint.”KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi further added

The prisoners who are on the run include those facing charges of murder, rape, robbery, and attempted murder.

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