Transkei stockthieves head for the hills

A total of 73 prisoners escaped from the prison in Bizana in the Eastern Cape on Friday. Provincial correctional services commissioner Raphepheng Mataka told Sapa police had rearrested seven of the escapees.

The inmates escaped when they were evacuated from the prison

after a gas stove exploded in the prison’s centre courtyard causing a fire.

Mataka said the prison currently has 312 inmates, although

actually only had capacity for 53 prisoners. He said the building’s kitchen was being renovated, and the food

for the prisoners was being cooked on gas stoves in the courtyard.

“There was an explosion and while officials were trying to stop

the fire, we had to evacuate all 312 prisoners to the outside of

the building.

“Once outside 73 of the prisoners decided to run away instead of being happy that we saved their lives,” Mataka said.

He said the inmates who escaped were serving terms for all types of crimes, but mainly stocktheft.

“Luckily we have a very good relationship with the community and they are helping us search for those who escaped.
We have also blocked off the whole town,” Mataka said.

He said it was expected that most of the escapees would be

rearrested by dawn on Saturday. - Sapa

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