Dramatic prisoner breakout at N3 toll plaza

Durban – Police are searching for a group of prisoners who escaped from a Department of Home Affairs transport vehicle at the Mooi River Toll Plaza in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on Thursday morning.

It is not immediately clear how many escaped, however initial reports put the figure at approximately nine. It is understood that the prisoners are illegal immigrants in detention.

A well-placed source with knowledge of the incident, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said that several prisoners had broken the locks of a police transport vehicle as it slowed down at the tollgate.

“They broke the door open and then scattered into traffic. As they made their escape, shots were fired but all the commotion caused a multi-vehicle pile-up,” he said.

“The prisoners then ran into Bruntville [an informal settlement that lies adjacent to the toll plaza] and now there is a search for them. The problem is that the prisoners were dressed in civilian clothing so they are hard to spot,” the source added.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that the incident had taken place.

“They were being transferred by Home Affairs officials from Ladysmith to Pietermaritzburg. The scene is still active and we are gathering information,” he said.

Zwane said that to his knowledge, there had not been a shooting or an accident at the toll plaza as a result of the daring escape.