Security prison warders in Pretoria where hysterically glued to the television watching a double-header soccer match when one of the notorious criminals escaped from prison.
The Mozambican-born Ananias Mathe became the first person to ever escape from C-Max maximum security prison in Pretoria.
The detail of his sudden disappearance was made known after about six warders were dismissed over the incidence.
Mathe who was described by a judge as “vicious and abnormal” drove past police near Boksburg on a motorcycle he had just stolen. Though he was chased by the police and shot severally, Mathe has since his escape disappeared into thin air leaving no traces of his whereabouts.
“They saw him going down the highway and shot at him‚ but missed. He fell off the bike‚ but got back on and drove away at a hell of a speed‚” said André Snyman‚ head of the community crime-fighting organisation eBlockwatch.
Math was convicted of 64 charges‚ including aggravated robbery‚ rape‚ indecent assault‚ attempted murder and housebreaking, and was jailed for 54 years in 2009.
Among the warders dismissed for the incident was Paulina Phahobe for dereliction of duty after being charged with failing to detect and prevent the escape.
She was however reinstated after the Labour Court in Johannesburg ruled that she be “reinstated into her position as a correctional services officer at C-Max Correctional Centre in Pretoria with immediate effect”.
Phahobe’s reinstatement followed several blunders in the way her dismissal was subsequently handled after nearly a decade.
Report from the laour court judgement which revealed what actually happened during the time of Mathe’s escape was actually an evidence that contributed to Phahobe’s reinstatement.
The report revealed that:
- C-Max was‚ at the time‚ understaffed and only two of five inmate observation towers;
- one of them occupied by Phahobe;
- were manned on the night of the escape;
- the catwalk‚ the area from which Mathe escaped‚ was not regularly patrolled;
- correctional Services staff were watching a double-header soccer match that evening and heavy rain had caused a noisy environment in the prison.
The mysterious escape of Ananias Mathe raised lots of eyebrows in the department leading to the appointment of a team by former Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour, to be headed by agents from the then National Intelligence Agency to investigate to investigate the case.
Mathe’s reign of terror as a criminal‚ and escapes from custody‚ spawned a documentary titled‚ Houdini Man – The life and crimes of Ananias Mathe‚ by Sabido Productions.