Two prisoners escape from court cells

Johannesburg – Two men, who were arrested for allegedly disarming two police officers and locking them in the back of their police van, have escaped from the Tembisa Magistrate’s Court, Gauteng police said on Thursday.

“The two suspects Bafana Ngwenya, 34 and Khulani Zungu, 29

escaped after appearing at Tembisa Magistrate’s Court for formal bail application (on Wednesday),” Colonel Noxolo Kweza said in a statement.

“After the court proceedings had finished, the suspects were held in the holding area between Court 7 and Court 8. It is suspected that they escaped between 2pm and 3pm through Court 8 after forcing open the steel mesh door.”

Around 4pm when prisoners were being escorted to Modderbee prison, officials noticed that the two men had forced open the steel mesh of Court 8 and escaped.

During their court appearance on Wednesday, they were remanded in custody until January 14.

Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Lesetja Mothiba said no stone would be left unturned in establishing what led to the escape.

“If there are any indications of negligence on the side of our members, they will be charged. We invested time and effort in arresting these very dangerous criminals and now they are in the streets,” Mothiba said in a statement.

“I assure the public that we will do everything to ensure that we find them and add a charge of escaping from lawful custody.”

Four people were arrested after they allegedly disarmed two police officers and locked them in the back of their police van, in November.

The four appeared in the Tembisa Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder, armed robbery, hijacking, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

On November 4, the police officers were approached by four people in Rabie Ridge, Johannesburg, while eating lunch at a food outlet around 3pm, Brigadier Neville Malila said at the time.

They pointed a firearm at the officers, took their guns, locked them in the back of their patrol vehicle, and fled. The assailants, who were joined by three others, then hijacked a car and fled.

People in the area helped free the officers and police gave chase.

“The suspects lost control of their vehicle and fired several shots at the police who returned fire,” Malila said.

Three people were arrested and three firearms seized. Two of the firearms had been stolen from the police officers. The third was taken from a Johannesburg metro police officer in September.

Police were searching for the other suspects. CCTV frame grabs of the incident were circulating on the internet on Wednesday.

The fourth man was arrested on November 5.

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