Escape of 3 prisoners probed

Source: Escape of 3 prisoners probed | Herald (Africa)

Asst Comm Nyathi

Bulawayo Bureau

THREE inmates that were serving a combined 30 years in prison escaped from police cells in Bulawayo after being brought in for indications to answer for other crimes.

Pardon Makuni (19), Menard Gwatiedza (22) and Ashely Moses (21) escaped from Mzilikazi Police Station during a handover take-over shift. The suspects were convicted of robbery in May and were serving their sentence at Whawha Prison in Gweru.

They were brought to Bulawayo on Saturday to answer to unlawful entry, rape and robbery charges, which they allegedly committed in Nkulumane suburb.

The suspects are said to have escaped from police cells at around 7.30PM after allegedly overpowering three cops.

Their escape has prompted the Zimbabwe Republic Police to institute an investigation into officers on duty as to how the trio managed to escape.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the cops involved will be investigated for dereliction of duty.

“The investigations have already started so that they can account for their actions,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

“These suspects were wanted for unlawful entry, rape and robbery and were inmates at Whawha Prison. They had to be taken to Bulawayo for indications on crimes they were accused of committing. We are conducting investigations and we cannot say they are dangerous. We are yet to establish the full extent of their criminal activities, suffice to say we know that they were involved in unlawful entry and theft, robbery and rape cases in Bulawayo.”

He appealed for information that will lead to the re-arrest of the convicts.

Police sources said the trio was on the wanted list until it emerged that they had been convicted in the Midlands.

“They escaped during the station’s shift change. When officers visited the cells to count inmates, the trio requested to be fed, but their request was turned down as they had eaten just a few hours earlier. One of the suspects then attacked a police officer, enabling him and his accomplices to escape. In the vicinity were two other police officers who failed to block them as they escaped,” said a source.

The source said the trio escaped heading towards Renkini Bus Terminus. The trio were each sentenced to 10 years in prison on robbery charges in May. This was after they were arrested for breaking into a police officer’s home in Kwekwe armed with an axe and knives demanding cash.

They tied up the cop and his wife and stole cellphones, bank cards as well as US$300 and $3 000 cash.

The suspects got away with the complainant’s car, which was later found dumped 12km from Kwekwe along the Gweru- Kwekwe highway.

In May, Moses and Gwatiedza were also charged for rape after they sexually attacked a 14 and 17-year-old girls in Redcliff. There have been concerns over criminals raping women during robberies.

In May, five armed robbers raped their victims before getting away with cash in Upper Rangemore on the outskirts of Bulawayo.

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