Cape Town - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has revealed that a total of 285 prisoners have escaped from custody over the past six years.
IFP MP Themba Msimang wrote to Lamola enquiring about the total number of prisoners who have escaped from detention facilities over the past five years and the crimes each such escaped prisoner has been convicted and/or accused of as at 30 April 2022.
Msimang also wanted to know the total number of prisoners that were re-arrested or remained at large.
In his written response, Lamola said a total of 285 inmates escaped from custody between 2017-2018 and 2022-23 financial years.
“There was an average of 151 495 inmates in custody at any given time during the mentioned period. The escape rate can be averaged at 48 inmates per year. This translates to an average of 0.032% inmates escaping from custody per annum,” he said.
Lamola also said the prisoners had committed a host of crimes ranging from murder to theft, armed robbery, housebreaking, intercourse with a minor, kidnapping, possession of drugs, rape and pointing of a fire arm, among others.
He said 146 awaiting-trial prisoners escaped as of April 2022 and that 126 were re-arrested.
Of the 82 that escaped in the Western Cape, 80 were re-arrested and two were still at large.
The minister said there were 139 sentenced prisoners that escaped from prison as of last month with at least 100 re-arrested and 39 yet to be re-arrested.
Lamola said prisoner escapes were reported to the South African Police Services and criminal cases were opened against the perpetrators.
“SAPS track and tracing unit together with the Department of Correctional Services’ emergency support teams conduct manhunt and search operations.”
He explained in cases when foreign nationals escape, his department and SAPS also engage with the SADC countries law enforcement agencies.