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Taupo: A South African has set a new record in New Zealand, but sadly not one on the sporting field, nor one the nation will be proud of during the Rugby World Cup.
Brandon Victor Pillay, a South African migrant and convicted extortionist, is “New Zealand’s greatest prison escaper”. He has been on the run for over 10 years, having escaped from a Taupo prison – where the Boks are based this week – on August 10, 2001, according to the Waikato Times.
“Of the 55 inmates to escape from Waikato prisons in the past 10 years, all but one was recaptured. Pillay is the only one never recaptured. While he is not the country’s most ingenious escaper – he simply walked away from a Rangipo Prison work party – he is by far the most successful, beating notorious escaper and drug baron Brian Curtis by two years so far.
At the time of his escape, Pillay was 24 and serving a 15-month sentence for extortion.
“It wasn’t very long – he would have been out in seven months,” University of Canterbury criminologist Greg Newbold said.
“I think he’s probably taken off just for the excitement of it. He probably thought ‘Bugger it, why put up with this?’. It would be quite exciting for him – more exciting than being in jail.”
It is suspected Pillay has left New Zealand and is hiding in South Africa or somewhere in the Pacific Islands.
“If you are living on the run in New Zealand, then you are always looking over your shoulder – you could never really relax because you never know when someone is going to recognise you,” said Newbold.
“There are 96 B Pillays listed in the South African white pages, but 7 000 more Pillays with varying initials,” reported the Times.
Taupo area commander Inspector Steve Bullock said police were still “actively” seeking Pillay and a warrant for his arrest remained in place. “Regardless of the level of crime and conviction, the escape of any prisoner is serious and warrants a serious police response.”
Brandon Pillay is 171cm tall, skinny with black hair and brown eyes, and “speaks with a strong South African accent”.