THE police have launched a manhunt for awaiting-trial prisoner Simon Lungisani Mzobe, who escaped from Scottburgh police custody on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
Mzobe, 27, who had been arrested for murder and attempted murder in Umzinto, tricked police into freeing him from custody.
It is alleged that the police went to the cells to call for prisoners who were booked out for appearance in the local court on Monday.
When Simnikile Abraham's name was called out Mzobe responded and was taken out of the cells for appearance in court.
Abraham had been arrested for possession of dagga.
Mzobe appeared before a magistrate as Abraham.
Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said Mzobe pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of dagga. He was remanded to June 10.
"He was released on warning and told to appear in court again for sentencing on June 10," he said.
Zwane said the police only realised the next day that the wrong person had been taken to court.
"Abraham informed the police that he had not been sent to court.
"On checking the register it was discovered that the wrong prisoner had been sent to court in Abraham's place," Zwane said.
He said a case of escaping from lawful custody was opened against Mzobe, while a case of aiding and abetting a prisoner to escape was opened against Abraham.
"We would like to send a strong warning to prisoners who are doing this that they will be charged for committing such offences."
Abraham is still in police custody.
Meanwhile, police have re-arrested Nhlanhla Mngadi in KwaMashu. Mngadi was among eight prisoners who escaped from Westville Prison in February. He was facing murder and armed robbery cases.
Mngadi appeared in the Pinetown magistrate's court this week and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to five years in prison for escaping.
Two of the eight escapees are still at large.