Dozens of prisoners filmed escaping South African jail before truck hijack

24 July 2020, 21:10

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Around 70 prisoners have been filmed escaping from a South African jail before reportedly hijacking a truck and taking a school hostage.

A large manhunt was triggered on Friday afternoon after 69 inmates escaped from Malmesbury Correctional Centre in the Western Cape.

Videos have since emerged showing some of the prisoners being recaptured by armed South African police officers.

61 of the inmates have been rearrested, while a further eight are still at large, it has been confirmed.

Nine prison officials were injured during the escape, sustaining minor injuries and bruises.

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A statement by the correctional centre wrote: "The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirms an incident at Malmesbury Remand Detention Facility, where 69 remand detainees escaped after overpowering officials during exercise at approximately 12:15pm on 24 July 2020.

"Of the 69 escapees, 61 have been rearrested and I would like to congratulate DSC officials, the South African Police Service (SAP) and the local armed response for their swift response in ensuring that the majority of escapees were arrested.

"As of now, eight remand detainees are still at large and most of them come from the Vredenburg area. The DCS Emergency Support Team (EST) and the SAP are working around the clock to ensure their arrest."

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It added that the escape occurred when the officials were providing exercise to the prisoners. The centre had 451 offenders at the time, while 20 officials were on duty.

The escapees overpowered staff, took the keys and locked three officials in a cell before opening others and escaping through the main entrance or over the roof.

The situation has now been "stabilised" and some of the offenders have been transferred out of the facility "to maximum facilities in the Region," the facility confirmed.

A spokesman for the centre said they will "face the consequences of their actions" and the facility will remain on lockdown to ensure stability.