A suspect arrested on Saturday after being wanted for months after a cash-in-transit heist in which a baby was killed, walked out of police cells the next day.
A high-level investigation to determine how a prisoner arrested for murder and armed robbery "simply walked out" of holding cells in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands would be held, police said yesterday.
Senior Superintendent Phindile Radebe confirmed that police discovered on Monday morning that Sgidi Sphamandla Gasela, 23, had escaped.
Gasela was arrested in connection with a shootout between robbers and security guards in Johannesburg last year, in which a 15-month-old baby, Khensani Mitileni, was killed while on the back of her mother, 27-year-old Cynthia Mitileni.
Radebe said a case of aiding and abetting had been opened.
"If any [policeman] is involved, criminal and departmental steps will be taken against them."
An intensive search for Gasela has begun and police are thinking of distributing photographs in the community to help speed up his arrest.
Details of the escape were not made available by Radebe. But earlier in the day Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said: "He simply walked out."
There was no sign that the prisoner had forced his way out of the cell, he said.
The man was arrested at a petrol station in Greytown, about to leave for Johannesburg in a minibus taxi. He gave police a false name, but his family positively identified him.
He was allegedly part of a gang, thought to be eight in number. Four men have already appeared in court.
A fifth suspect committed suicide last month while travelling with police to KwaZulu-Natal. - Sapa