Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Police in Durban have launched a massive manhunt for five dangerous awaiting-trail prisoners.

The men had escaped from the holding cells at Cato Manor police station.

The police said that they had discovered in the early hours of yesterday that the five men were not in their cells.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Jay Naicker said that during a routine cell check police officials had discovered that the five prisoners from one of the holding cells had escaped.

Naicker said: "It is alleged that the prisoners had escaped before 3am by cutting through the bars in the exercise area and escaping through the roof of the holding cell."

The escapees had been arrested for murder, robbery and rape.

Two of the prisoners, Dennis Mbatha, 29, and Simphiwe Ntuli, 30, were arrested for their involvement in a cash-in-transit robbery at KwaMaphumulo.

The robbery had claimed the lives of two police officers.

Four officers had been travelling in a police vehicle escorting a Cash Paymaster Services vehicle carrying pension payout funds when they were cornered by 16 armed men between the towns of Kranskop and Stanger.

The armed gang had fatally shot Inspector Samuel Dludla, 44, and Sergeant Sithembiso Sithole, 39.

The other escapees were Mbongeni Khwela, 21, who had been arrested for robbery, Velaphi Ntombela, 45, who had been arrested for rape and Shaun Naidoo, 22, who had been arrested for murder.

Naicker appealed to the community for help in arresting the prisoners.

He said that anyone who might have any information on the whereabouts of the prisoners should get in touch either with Captain Anton Lochem of the Durban organised crime unit on 082-556-2188 or with Crime Stop on 08600-10-11-1.