Johannesburg - A Pietermaritzburg prisoner made two failed attempts to escape from the Ixopo Magistrate's Court on the same day, The Witness reported on Wednesday.

Sthembiso Vincent Shabalala, dubbed 'Houdini' after a previous escape, reportedly stormed out of the court on Tuesday while it was in session and jumped into a getaway car that was left idling in the road.

Police and members of the Hawks drove a car through a locked gate and cut off Shabalala's escape route. He was then returned to the court cells in leg irons and handcuffs.

Shortly afterwards, Shabalala, minus his restraints, reportedly barged back into the court room when a court orderly unlocked a door to bring other prisoners to court. He was detained again.

Police were investigating how he managed to free himself from the fetters.

Shabalala faces charges of armed robbery, attempted murder, possession of weapons and escaping from custody.

He is also expected back in the Pietermaritzburg High Court next month in connection with the murder and robbery of a Richmond farmer.

In December, he escaped from court by clinging to the chassis of a prison van.

When the van later stopped at a red robot, he let go of the chassis and dropped to the ground. He was re-arrested after a month on the run. - Sapa