EWN Exclusive: Prison officials knew Moyo was planning escape

Pretoria Central Prison officials made critical errors, allowing Bongani Moyo to escape.

Bongani Moyo (L) and his co-accused Khubulani Sibanda and Leon Ngcube after their prison break failed on 14 March 2012. Picture: Barry Bateman

PRETORIA - Eyewitness News has learnt Correctional Services Department officials ignored a tip-off that serial escapee Bongani Moyo would try to break out of Pretoria Central Prison.

While junior officials were given final written warnings for several offences, including negligence, senior managers who failed to act were not even charged.

Moyo and two co-accused, Khumbulani Sibanda and Themba Dube, escaped from the facility in March but were arrested a few hundred metres away. The men cut through their leg irons with a hacksaw they smuggled into the prison before scaling a perimeter wall.

An investigation report shows the guards on duty could not alert anyone because they did not have radios, telephones or whistles.

The last two guards working in the watch tower abandoned his post because the person who was supposed to replace him for the next shift did not arrive on time.

It later emerged that the guard who did not arrive did not know he was working at the watch tower because the official in charge of drafting the weekly schedule did not do so.

They were recaptured when a newspaper vendor stationed close to the wall alerted the authorities.

They had escaped from custody twice before.

An inmate kept in the same section as Moyo warned prison management in October that the serial escapee and his co-accused would exploit security weaknesses in yet another jail break attempt.

Three senior managers were aware of the information but did not act on it.

The report also reveals the inmates were rarely searched, procedure was barely followed and personnel did not communicate adequately.

Correctional Services officials said the warning was investigated but nothing could be established at the time.