From left: Liston Baloyi, Diver Mogudu, Justice Moakiri, Sammy Sibiya and Innocent Mahlalela

Johannesburg - Five awaiting-trial prisoners escaped from custody in Pretoria while on their way to the Kgosi Mampuru Prison, Gauteng police said on Tuesday.

Captain Doniah Mothutsane said the SAPS in Gauteng were searching for the five men who escaped on Monday afternoon at around 3.35pm.

“Members from Bela Bela SAPS were transporting ten suspects from Bela Bela Magistrate’s Court to Kgosi Mampuru Prison when five managed to escape from the vehicle at the corner of Es’kia Mphahlele and Bloed street,” Mothutsane said.

“It was established that they managed to remove the iron mesh and kicked out the rear window, jumped out of the vehicle and ran away. The police fine-combed the area but no arrests were made.”

The five who escaped were all arrested for armed robbery and are Liston Baloyi, 22, Innocent Mahlalela, 40, Sammy Sibiya, 23, Justice Moakiri, 27, and Diver Mogudu, 25.

Not all the cases of armed robbery were related.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mothiba said that no stone would be left unturned to establish the reason the men escaped.

“A thorough investigation will be done and if our members have been negligent, they will be held accountable,” Mothiba said.

“Many hours and manpower have been invested to arrest these dangerous criminals and the public is assured that everything possible will be done to re-arrest them. A charge of escaping from lawful custody will be added to the other crimes they have been charged with.”

Mothutsane urged people not to confront the men and said they were dangerous and urged people to contact the police if they saw the men.