Desperate jailbird just wanted to go home

Published Mar 28, 2012



THE MAN who spent several hours perched on top of a third-floor wall of Johannesburg Prison is from Soweto, and is now facing a charge of malicious damage to property.

Correctional Services authorities yesterday said the awaiting-trial detainee, who they could not name, had indicated while atop the wall that he did not have money for bail and wanted to go home.

The drama, which could be seen from the main road passing in front of the prison – also known as Sun City – unfolded from noon on Monday.

It ended after 10pm when the detainee finally agreed to climb down from the wall.

Police negotiators were called in after several hours and managed to talk the man into climbing down the wall five hours later.

Correctional Services Commissioner Tom Moyane also arrived at the scene.

As with the incident involving serial escapee Bongani Moyo two weeks ago at Pretoria Central Prison, the detainee had scaled a 2m-high wall while in the exercise yard.

Prison authorities said he removed his shoes to enhance his grip on the wall, which gave him an advantage over warders who could not follow him until he ended up on the third floor at the prison’s Medium B section.

Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was furious when Moyo and bank robbery co-accused Khumbulani Sibanda and robbery suspect Themba Dube’s escape attempt had to be foiled at the Pretoria prison’s maximum security section. They had been in the exercise yard at the time of their escape.

Mapisa-Nqakula has promised that heads would roll if any prison staff were found to have aided the three in their failed escape.

The Sun City incident was yesterday downplayed by officials, who said the detainee was just trying to “get our attention”.

“He was trying to attract attention of the officials to say ‘I don’t belong here, I want to go home’,” said correctional services spokeswoman Sibongile Khumalo.

“He simply wanted to go home, saying he did not have money for bail. We have our people he could have spoken to about this inside, but he didn’t know how to go through the proper channels.”

Khumalo added that a preliminary report into the incident was expected to be released today.

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