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Warders at Modderbee Prison in Benoni, Ekurhuleni, have foiled an attempted escape by four awaiting trial detainees who would probably have shot their way out of the jail.
The four were on Tuesday caught with a loaded gun in the reception area of the prison.
Spokesman for the Correctional Services Manelisi Wolela said: "A tip-off helped officials find and confiscate a .38 special Taurus revolver that was intended to be used in the escape.
"Four awaiting-trial detainees, who were arrested for different crimes ranging from robbery to attempted murder, are implicated.
"When we interviewed them, one of them confirmed that the firearm was to be used in their escape."
He said preliminary investigations had revealed that the firearm was received on Monday when the implicated inmates attended their trial at the Kempton Park magistrate's court.
"The prisoners have since been separated from one another to ensure that security measures are not compromised," Wolela said.
Parliament's correctional services committee chairman Dennis Bloem said he has asked the prison area manager for a report on how the gun got inside prison.