Fear as murder suspects escape

RESIDENTS of Gravelotte, near Phalaborwa in Limpopo, have pleaded with the police to protect them after three men alleged to be responsible for a spate of serious crimes escaped from prison.

The three awaiting trial prisoners, who escaped from the Gravelotte Prison cells yesterday, were identified as Rogerio Chambale, 28, Eddy Chauke, 30, and Nasser Narcy, 27, all from Mozambique.

Police said the escapees used a saw to cut the cell bars at about 12.30am and vanished into the night. The three had been arrested for the brutal murder of a well-known doctor in Gravelotte in February.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Ronnel Otto said the men allegedly went into the house of Paul Meyer and attacked him.

"Meyer was with his wife and kids when the three entered their house and held them hostage before forcing them onto the family bakkie."

Otto said the men drove the family to some bushes before Gravelotte and shot Meyer in the head. He died instantly.

"Seeing that he was dead, they dumped his body along the road. About 50km from Gravelotte, they dumped Meyer's wife and children along the road and drove away."

Otto said the men were spotted at Kruger National Park the following day trying to cross into Mozambique. "A fierce shootout between park rangers and the men ensued but the trio managed to escape unhurt."

The bakkie was later found in Mozambique and one man was arrested. Investigations by police pointed at the other two suspects, who were also arrested.

They appeared in the Gravelotte periodical court several times and pleaded not guilty to murder.

"They escaped at a time when they were expected to be given a date for their trial," said Otto.

Meanwhile, the search is still on for a criminal who shot and killed another famous Phalaborwa doctor in March.

Fanzo Nyathi, who was also a pastor at Namakgale, was killed on his birthday at home .

Police have offered a reward of R25000 for anyone who can help them in the arrest of the criminal(s).

Now Gravelotte residents are concerned that dangerous criminals are on the loose and have appealed to police for more protection.