THREE INMATES HAVE been killed and 14 wounded after their vehicle was bombed en route to a Johannesburg prison on Monday, in what officials are treating as an audacious escape attempt.
The blast occurred as two police officers were transporting 36 male prisoners – all of whom were awaiting trial – from Randburg court to the prison in the south of the country’s largest city.
“There was an explosion in one of our vehicles at the traffic light in front of the facility,” police spokesman Neville Malila told AFP.
“Fourteen were injured, three died and 19 others were not wounded,” he said.
Police said the blast came from within the truck and was likely part of an escape plot.
Moments after the blast, which punched a whole near the left-side door of the vehicle, two prisoners attempted to flee the scene.
One escapee was shot in the buttocks and apprehended. The other was also caught.
All of the prisoners on board were awaiting trial for theft or housebreaking. One was facing murder charges.
“The driver heard a noise, two prisoners tried to escape, one was shot and the other was caught unhurt,” said Malila.
The driver was then able to pull the truck into the prison complex.
The suspects now face charges of “murder, possession of explosives and escape from lawful custody,” said Malila.
It is not known what type of explosive was used. “Our explosives experts are establishing that at the moment,” he added.
An AFP photographer at the scene saw three ambulances and a fire engine leave the prison complex under police escort.