A dangerous criminal is on the run after breaking out of St Albans Prison in an escape that Correctional Services officials say will see heads roll.
Calling the escape of Phumzile Langeni – who has already escaped once before – either an aided escape or gross negligence, Correction- al Services regional commissioner Nkosinathi Breakfast said he would leave no stone unturned in getting answers.
Langeni, 43, serving a 30-year sentence, escaped on Friday and a manhunt to track him down is under way.
Police have warned that Langeni, who mysteriously escaped from St Albans, should be considered dangerous and should not be approached or confronted.
He has a string of convictions for crimes including cash-in-transit robbery and attempted murder.
This is Langeni’s second escape from custody since his arrest in 2008.
While Correctional Services officials were unable to comment on the first escape, it is mentioned in court papers following Langeni’s unsuccessful appeal of his conviction.
His escape was only noticed on Friday evening during a head count.
While Langeni was sentenced to 43 years’ imprisonment, his effective prison term would be 30 years and he has served just seven.
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said teams had been assembled to locate and arrest Langeni.
“We are assisting with the search and our teams are working around the clock to rearrest the suspect. This suspect should be considered very dangerous and, judging by his past, more than likely armed,” Beetge said.
Breakfast yesterday confirmed that a criminal and internal probe had been launched.
“This is nonsense. This is either an aided escape or gross negligence,” he said.
“It is impossible for one of our offenders to escape, in broad daylight, unnoticed.
“I want answers from my people working there. I am going to leave no stone unturned and those who were working need to answer.”
Breakfast said that from March last year, Langeni had worked as a cleaner at the prison.
“Even if he was doing cleaning duties he had to be booked out, escorted and watched while doing his duties.
“It begs the question how he got out, as we have several security checkpoints and staff on site.
“These are the questions I am going to get answers to.”
Officials said Langeni, who prior to his arrest lived in the Motherwell and Zwide areas, was a known associate of Luzuko “Luciano” Level – a former member of a gang linked to cash-intransit heist kingpin Sakhumzi Mvoko.
Mvoko was gunned down by the specialist national intervention unit during a failed escape at the Mthatha High Court in September 2014.
In January 2010, Langeni was convicted on 15 counts, including two of attempted murder, two of armed robbery, escaping custody and 10 relating to the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
A year after his conviction, Langeni unsuccessfully approached the Grahamstown High Court to have his sentence overturned,
In a judgment in July 2011, acting judge A Andrews said Langeni had gone on a 10-month crime spree and had stockpiled an arsenal of firearms.
“The appellant [Langeni] was a well-armed, callous individual who committed a series of premeditated armed robberies and attempted murder over a period of almost a year.”