19 January 2017

Botswana Scales Up Bid to Track Down Zim Jailbreakers

Photo: Channels TV
Prison cell (file photo).

A team of soldiers, police officers and prison officials has been set up in Botswana to help track down Zimbabwean fugitives who reportedly escaped from Francistown Central Prison at Gerald Estates Centre on Saturday after destroying the prison fence with a manhole cover.

According to media reports, four of the inmates who escaped during lunchtime at the Centre for Illegal Immigrants have since been captured while the others are still on the run.

The four were convicted for offences such as murder and robbery while their fellow escapees were remand prisoners also facing similar charges.

Gerald Estates Police Station commander Superintendent Edward Leposo was quoted as saying the prisoners were on the run and that they did not rule out the possibility that the fugitives had fled Botswana.

"We have assembled a strong team of soldiers, police officers and prison officials in our bid to deal with the situation. We have even deployed helicopters in a bid to effectively manage the situation," he said.

"We are on the trails of many prisoners so far. What I can assure members of the public is that we will certainly arrest the fugitives."

After the escape, Botswana police arrested Sicelo and Mlindeli Moyo who were on remand awaiting trial for murder.

The duo was the first to be arrested on Sunday at Masingwaneng Village, a few kilometres outside Francistown.

Another escapee, Mthokozisi Sibanda, who was awaiting trial on charges of illegally possessing ivory, was also arrested on Sunday at Tati Siding Village near Francistown.

Botswana Prisons divisional commander Senior Superintendent Sekano Sekano was quoted as saying the prisoners escaped after destroying a fence during lunchtime.

"It looks like it was a planned escape. We do not rule out negligence on our part as prison officials. The focus is now on arresting those who have escaped. After arresting them we will then investigate what led to the escape and put remedial measures," he said.

According to media reports, this was the second time that prisoners had escaped from custody in Francistown in less than 12 months.

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