A group of 16 prisoners who escaped from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre. File picture: Antoine de Ras/Independent Media

Parliament - Parliament has called on the Department of Correctional Services to account after 16 awaiting trial inmates escaped from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, Medium A prison, also known as “Sun City”, earlier this week.

The 16 escaped through a pipe shaft and broke through a wall and included suspects accused of murder, robbery and rape.

Two of the 16 escapees were shot and killed in KwaZulu-Natal, following an intense shootout with the Hawks, reducing the number to 14.

Correctional Services and Justice Portfolio Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga called on Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha and deputy ministers Thabang Makwetla and John Jeffrey to account and answer questions before Parliament next week.

Motshekga said the incident placed the lives of law abiding South Africans citizens at risk, and that urgent intervention was required for the spate of escapes.

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“We need the minister and the two deputy ministers to appear before the committee in public in order to give a full account as to what they have been doing to address the tide of breakouts.

“This has been continuing for some time and poses a great risk to the general public. It is unacceptable. The committee will also enquire about the extent to which the department have implemented policy guidelines that are clear as to what needs to be done.” said Motshekga.

The department meanwhile said it was working around the clock to ensure that the escapees were found and rearrested.

The department's spokesperson Logan Maistry said: “We were immediately at the scene after this incident took place. We immediately launched an investigation, that investigation is continuing. We are working around the clock with all relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure the speedy arrest of the remaining 14”.

He said the department was prepared to appear before Parliament next week to answer on the prison escapes.

“The department will appear before the committee and answers questions before parliament. When the Department is called upon by any arm of government, the Department complies accordingly. We account to parliament all the time and we will continue to do so accordingly,” said Maistry.

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