Limpopo cops re-arrest three of four escaped criminals
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Pretoria - Limpopo police have re-arrested three of the four convicted criminals that had escaped from police custody while being transported to court for sentencing.
According to provincial police spokesperson, Motlafela Mojapelo, Zimbabwean nationals, John Fine, 39, Dennis Hove, 39, Clifford Matonhori, 31 and South African Figos Madisha, 40 escaped from police custody in Westernburg in Polokwane last week.
The suspects had escaped from a police van in Polokwane while being transported to court for their sentencing.
In a police statement on Wednesday, Mojapelo said seven prisoners were being transported from the Polokwane Correctional Centre to Mokopane Regional Court for sentencing after being convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The re-arrests come after the criminals hijacked two trucks along the N1 on two consecutive days – first on Thursday night next to the area where these convicted criminals escaped and the other at Nyl Plaza, outside Polokwane.
Mojapelo said: “Four suspects fitting the description of the dangerous criminals, who earlier escaped from the police van along the R101 south of Polokwane, allegedly hijacked a truck and later abandoned it at Ysterberg on the N1.
He said the suspects allegedly hijacked another truck the next day at Nyl Plaza toll gate and drove it towards Modimolle, outside Polokwane with the victims inside when the truck hit one of the barricades at Kranskop tollgate and the suspects jumped off and fled into the bushes.
“A well co-ordinated search operation involving members of the Limpopo highway patrol, SAPS Air-wing, several SAPS Units, members from the neighbouring police stations assisted by trackers from the Heritage Protection Group, Private Pilot, Belabela Rural Safety and ordinary community members led to the apprehension of the fleeing suspects.
“One of the escapees allegedly shot at the police when he was spotted. The police returned fire and while searching the area, the suspect was found on top of a tree and injured. He was immediately arrested. The other two suspects were arrested in the vicinity.”
The search operation continued and a police service pistol that had been robbed during the escape was recovered in the bushes.
One of the suspects, Hove, is still at large and the search continues.
The four suspects are also facing several cases of armed robberies and possession of illegal firearms that were allegedly committed along the N1 under Belabela, Modimolle, Mookgopong and Mokopane targeting motorists.
They were to be sentenced in Mokopane Regional Court last Friday when they escaped from police custody.
The SAPS Provincial Commissioner in Limpopo, Lieutenant-General Thembi Hadebe, hailed the commitment and unwavering support displayed by ordinary community members and other organised community structures on Saturday in assisting the police to re-arrest three of the four criminals.
Hadebe said: “We commend all role-players who participated in this operation that led to the apprehension of these criminals and also thank community members for their continued support.”