'Mathe was crying and I told him to stop because the ambulance was on its way'

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Pertunia Ratsatsi and McKeed Kotlolo

Pertunia Ratsatsi and McKeed Kotlolo

The next home for South Africa's "Houdini", who was rearrested yesterday, could be the so-called super-maximum Ebangweni Correctional Centre at Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal.

An excited Minister Ngconde Balfour told the media outside C-Max he was relieved that Annanias Mathe, 29, was back behind bars after escaping from Pretoria's C-Max Prison two weeks ago.

He said Mathe, who was shot three times during the arrest, was "where he belongs".

"I want him to go to Kokstad. I want to see him rot there."

Security at Ebangweni is regarded as the country's most severe.

Balfour said he had arranged with prison authorities to secure a special cell for Mathe where he would be under 24-hour guard.

Regarding his escape and whether he was helped internally, Balfour said: "Mathe himself will have to tell us who assisted him. From the size of his head and the size of the windows in that cell, there's no way he could have squeezed through. He is the first to escape and he will be the last."

Together with Gauteng police commissioner Perumal Naidoo, pictured left, Balfour expressed his relief that the country's most wanted criminal was back behind bars.

"I am relieved. I'm very much relieved," he said.

Correctional services' officials at the scene of the arrest positively identified Mathe from a long scar on his chest and a stomach wound.

His rearrest came after he allegedly stole a car fitted with a tracking device.

Altech Netstar employees received a signal from the car and they gave chase until they caught up with him at Kanana informal settlement in Tembisa on the North Rand at about 8am.

Police found a laptop, a television set and baby seat in the car stolen at Craighall Park in Johannesburg early yesterday.

He was later transported to Pretoria's C-Max Prison in an ambulance escorted by about 10 police officers.

At the entrance to C-Max, Balfour allowed media to take photographs of the wounded Mathe in the ambulance. The harmless-looking Mathe told Sowetan he was not feeling very well.

Senior Superintendent Phillip Khoja of Rabie Ridge police station, who was among the first officers on the scene, identified Mathe.

"Mathe was crying and I told him in Tsonga to stop because the ambulance was on its way to take him to hospital and that everything would be alright."

An officer from the Midrand Dog Unit, Captain John Tshweu said Mathe told them he had been staying in a Sandton hotel where someone paid for his stay. "It was R550 per day," Tshweu said.