Johannesburg - Gauteng police are hunting for five awaiting-trial prisoners who escaped through the roof of a truck while being driven to Modderbee Prison. The incident happened near Putfontein in Ekurhuleni on Monday afternoon while they were being transported from the Tembisa Magistrate’s Court.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini asked anyone with information on the five to report their whereabouts.

They are Muzi Sambula, Alex Maake, Sipho Edwin Mzimba, Sipho Mpostoli Mthethwa and Mkhulu Ndlovu.

Sambula, Maake and Mzimba were arrested in Ivory Park on various matters. Sambula and Maake were arrested for armed robbery, and Mzimba for murder, armed robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Mthethwa was arrested for business robbery and Ndlovu for a hijacking, both in Tembisa.

Dlamini warned the public not to confront the men as they are considered to be armed and dangerous. “Police transporting them were alerted by a member of the public who indicated that there was a problem at the back of the truck. On inspection, one of the prisoners was found on the roof. It is unknown what object was used to open the roof. An investigation is continuing.”

Last month, The Star reported that the departments of Correctional Services and of Justice and Constitutional Development have introduced audio video remand (AVR) systems which ensure that detainees do not leave prison for court unless they have to.

It is similar to those used in cases involving child victims, who testify through a video link fed live to the courtroom so they don’t have to face the accused.

It is conducted in a prison room-cum-makeshift court, furnished with a miniature dock and microphones. Warders monitoring the procedure write down remand dates and bring in detainees for their hearings.

A network link is established between the courtroom with the magistrate, interpreter, prosecutor and lawyers, and the prison room.

Only accused who are older than age 18 and whose matters are pending trial are eligible to use the AVR.

On Tuesday, Gauteng Correctional Services spokesman Ofentse Morwane said not all correctional facilities have the system; Modderbee does not.

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The Star