GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa – Six Zimbabweans and a South African national have escaped from prison in the neighbouring country’s small town of Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.
The six Zimbabwean escapees were identified as Nhamo Muyambo, Francis Chitiyo, Trymore Chauke, Abraham Moyane, Simba Masinga, and Bennet Kwarrile.
Muyambo, Moyane, Chitiyo, Masinga and Chauke had been detained for rhino poaching while Kwarrie, was detained for housebreaking, theft and attempted murder.
South African authorities described the escapees as dangerous and warned the public not to confront the fugitives if spotted anywhere.
“They are considered dangerous, and should not be confronted if spotted, information should be shared with the nearest Police Station,” warned the department of correctional services (DCS).
Prison authorities and police have launched a manhunt for the seven inmates.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Majola Nkohli said the detainees escaped through a prison window in the Grahamstown Correctional Facility in Makhanda in the early hours of Tuesday.
“It is alleged that on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at about 4AM, the officer arrived for standby duties to visit the prison when she saw lights that were on in one of the units. It was discovered that seven prisoners had escaped through a window. The circumstances surrounding the incident are forming part of the investigation,” said Nkholi.
According to the 2022 Zimbabwe population census, South Africa is home to 773,246 of the 908,913 Zimbabwean nationals that make up the troubled country’s giant diaspora community. Many believe the figures are much higher.
The majority are undocumented immigrants who have migrated into the continent’s most-industrialised nation over the past four decades to seek employment opportunities.
However, a tiny few Zimbabweans have been captured in South Africa’s sky-rocketing crime statistics.
Official figures indicate that 18,000 of the 544,000 inmates in South African prisons were immigrants. It is not known how many of these are Zimbabweans.