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A Pretoria High Court judge has pleaded with a murderer who was due to be sentenced on Friday but who escaped from Pretoria Local Prison last week – apparently with the help of a member of the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit – to give himself up and “face his punishment like a man”.

Eersterus resident Howard Sack was apparently “booked out” of prison a week ago by a warrant officer in the Crime Intelligence Unit and wasn’t brought back to prison.

Police have launched a manhunt for Sack and a warrant for his arrest was issued by Judge Moses Mavundla.

Sack was due to be sentenced, together with his co-accused Christopher Grey, for the November 2009 drive-by shooting and killing of Nellmapius resident Neil Gouws.

Gouws – a father of two – was shot outside his house while he was working on his car which was parked in the street in what is thought to be a revenge killing.

Grey was driving the white Toyota Tazz from which the passenger – Sack – fired a single shot at Gouws before speeding off.

Gouws was hit in the stomach and died on his way to hospital. His wife was at the time pregnant with their second child.

The men’s advocate, Piet Pistorius, told Judge Mavundla he had consulted the two accused in prison this week regarding their pending sentence. His instructing attorney phoned him later that day to tell him Sack had escaped.

The cop who allegedly “booked him out” of prison, a Warrant Officer Ramotse, appeared in the Pretoria Regional Court on Friday on various charges, including corruption. The case was postponed for seven days for further investigation and he remains in custody.

Judge Mavundla appealed to Sack’s family, if he contacted them, to try and convince him to hand himself over.

“Tell him it is not worthwhile to escape… he is still young. Tell him to come back as soon as possible. If he runs he will face the risk that he may be killed. He must come back and receive his sentence like a man,” said Judge Mavundla.

He said the time Sack will have to serve in jail will soon pass and then he could get on with his life. “For him to run away… will only make matters worse.”

Judge Mavundla said the law is not something which could be stopped. “If I am not here tomorrow, another judge will take over the case. The wheels of justice will keep on grinding… He must face the consequences like a brave man.”

The judge also said it was “mind boggling” as to how a police officer, who had a job, could assist someone to escape “just for a paltry amount” at the risk of losing his job.

The judge said the authorities should deal harshly with offending cops as to “get rid of the rotten potatoes”. The case against Grey was postponed to May 21.

Anyone with information regarding Sack’s whereabouts can contact warrant officer Fanus Fouche at 072 180 6219.

* In another case, the Independent Complaints Directorate has urged people who saw the killing of a Boksburg man, allegedly by a police sergeant, to come forward.

Rean Ramdin, 29, was shot and killed after being arrested for alleged drug possession at Presley’s nightclub last Saturday.

Witnesses can call 011 220 1500. - Pretoria News