Botswana cops launch manhunt after 15 Zimbabweans escape jail

Harare - Police in Botswana have launched a manhunt for 15 Zimbabwean fugitives who escaped from a prison in Francistown on Saturday after destroying the prison fence with manhole cover.

Three of the 18 inmates that escaped during lunchtime at Gerald Estates Centre for Illegal Immigrants have since been captured while the rest are still on the run, according to the Gerald Estate police commander, Edward Leposo.

Leposo told News24 that Botswana police, soldiers and intelligence officers have since been deployed in and around Francistown, including the country’s borders.

“We are on the trails of many prisoners so far. What I can assure members of the public is that we will certainly arrest the fugitives,” said Leposo.

Botswana police have since arrested Sixelo and Molimbeli Moyo who were on remand awaiting trial for murder offences. The duo were the first to be arrested on Sunday at Masingwaneng village, a few kilometres outside Francistown.  Another escapee, Mthukuzisi Sibanda, who was awaiting trial on charges of illegally possessing ivory, was also arrested on Sunday at Tati Siding village near Francistown

Leposo named the other escapees as Brilliant Thembisani, Edwin Ncube, Lindisiwe Molome, Thulani Thabani, Samodimo Moloitsi, Givemore Mutoloba, Mosa Wills, Rowland Moyo, Charlotte Ndlovu, Bruce Masuku, Chakalani Barati.

Three of the escapees are Botswana nationals while the rest are Zimbabweans. Leposo said most of the escapees were remand prisoners who were facing murder and robbery charges and fears were high that the jail breakers could have skipped the border into neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said Zimbabwean authorities were waiting for official communication from Botswana police.

“We are always on standby to enforce the law but we have to follow protocol when dealing with matters of this nature,” said Charamba.

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