Police have launched a search for three prisoners, out of a gang of five, who made their getaway from the Empangeni magistrate's court in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
One prisoner was shot dead, allegedly by his co-escapees during the daring escape, while the fourth was rearrested at the scene.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said a police truck had dropped off 38 prisoners at the court when the inmates made a run for it.
"As they were coming out of the vehicle, five prisoners accosted two police officers and took their pistols."
He said the prisoners opened fire on police. "During the shooting, awaiting trial prisoner Sphamandla Mthethwa, 25, was shot dead by one of his colleagues. He was found in possession of a stolen pistol. One prisoner was rearrested by police. Three prisoners are armed and on the run.
"They were arrested for armed robbery and aggravated robbery. The matter is being investigated and none of the policemen were injured," Mdunge said.
l Meanwhile, detectives from the task team appointed to probe the escape of three other prisoners during a daring walk- out from the Qalakabusha Prison at Empangeni in August are still on the look out for the men.
Seven of the prisoners were arrested within days of the arrest. One was shot dead during a shoot-out with police at the weekend, but police are still searching for two others.