A high-level investigation by the department of correctional services is paying off as three more of its officials were suspended yesterday.
This is in addition to the two who appeared in court yesterday for allegedly helping 16 fugitives escape from the Johannesburg Media A Correctional Centre.
Three of the fugitives had just been sentenced to four life imprisonments following the murder of a family in Lawley, a township southwest of Johannesburg.
The two arrested officials were each granted R5 000 bail and are set to appear in court again on May 3. Meanwhile, the probe continues as more suspensions are expected soon.
Thakane Molatedi, the department’s Gauteng regional commissioner, said developments of the internal investigation were disappointing, as the guards’ alleged behaviour goes against the “ethos, and mandate” of the department.
She said: “[The department] will fully cooperate with the investigation by the Saps to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of this escape. Those found guilty will face the full might of the law.”
Molatedi added that they were taking these allegations seriously, and that the work done by the investigating teams to uncover the culprits is “commendable”.
The department reported that 1 036 disciplinary cases were finalised in Gauteng from January 2017 to date, for various acts of misconduct. Forty-two officials were dismissed, some faced additional sanctions and others were proven innocent.
“We will allow the law to take its course,” said Molatedi. “As it is our responsibility to ensure that our facilities are centres of rehabilitation, we will continue to root out all forms of unlawful activities in order to maintain a high standard of safety and security.”
Two of the 16 escapees were killed during a shoot-out with police, while four have been rearrested. “Ten of the 16 escapees are still at large and we will not rest until all of them are arrested,” she said.
Gauteng Saps spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said he could not give any information about how the guards allegedly helped the escapees, as it was the basis of evidence to be presented in court.