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Hunt for 4 dangerous inmates on the run after brazen escape from Rooigrond Correctional Facility

Four dangerous suspects escaped from the Rooigrond Correctional Facility in North West on Tuesday morning. From left to right: Alfred Gwambe, Zacharia Francisco Nyalimate, Siyabonga Sithole and Edward Madiba. Pictures: Supplied

Four dangerous suspects escaped from the Rooigrond Correctional Facility in North West on Tuesday morning. From left to right: Alfred Gwambe, Zacharia Francisco Nyalimate, Siyabonga Sithole and Edward Madiba. Pictures: Supplied

Published Mar 15, 2022

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North West - The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) have condemned what they have termed as “the brazen” escape of four inmates on Tuesday morning at the Rooigrond Medium A Correctional Centre.

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirmed that it was, working with the SAPS, and has launched a manhunt for the inmates following their escape.

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DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo identified the inmates as:

* Zacharia Francisco Nyalimate (Mozambican national) convicted for house breaking and murder. He is serving 27 years in jail.

* Alfred Gwambe (Mozambican national) convicted for house breaking, theft, possession of a stolen vehicle. He is serving 65 years.

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* Siyabonga Sithole (South African national) convicted for rape, theft and house breaking. He is serving a life sentence.

* Edward Madiba (South African) convicted for robbery, possession of firearm. He is serving 15 years.

“The Department is appealing to the public to assist with any information that may lead to the re-arrest of these four. They are considered dangerous and, if spotted, information should be shared with the nearest police station,” said Nxumalo.

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He said that investigations would be instituted and the circumstances relating to the escape would be revealed once investigations have been concluded.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said this latest incident follows an escape that took place on December 5, 2021, when an inmate who escaped has yet to be re-arrested.

“This Medium A facility hosts a total of 986 inmates, with 730 sentenced, while 290 of those are serving life sentences.

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“At the time of this morning’s escape, only one correctional official was on duty at the affected unit which houses 300 inmates.

“It is our held view that after so many years since our correctional centres have been defined as centres for the core function of rehabilitation, the DCS continues to face multiple upheavals, including being perforated with challenges ranging from overcrowding and under-staffing, ailing infrastructure, the lack of resources to appropriately meet its increasing demands,” Mamabolo said.

He said with a total of 243 operational centres with a bed capacity of 118 572 across the country and housing approximately 138 070 inmates, their correctional centres have a staff complement of 34 000, with 12 000 of those performing administrative duties.

“Beyond this, approximately 85% of inmates in our country re-offend after their release, meaning the current system of rehabilitation needs to be redefined because as is the current situation, our centres are far from being conducive to fulfilling the rehabilitating requirements. This is partly due to limited technical and life skills inmates are getting, therefore making it difficult to survive outside the prison environment, and has been a source of increased crime,” he said.

Mamabolo said that South Africa’s correctional centres continue being high-risk environments, particularly in that the department cannot maintain adequate standards of health and safety, proper sanitation, and other health and safety protocols as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We reiterate our call that, in addressing some of the pertinent challenges facing our correctional centres, they should be self-sufficient insofar as food production through farming, the production of offender uniforms, furniture, and the general maintenance and repairs as this will not only cut down on costs incurred and reduce the levels of criminal activities common within prisons but will also skill inmates even beyond incarceration.

“We call on the local communities to share information with law enforcement officials that could lead to the speedy apprehension of these escaped convicts,” Mamabolo said.

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Political Bureau

Related Topics:

Crime and courts

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