A group of heavily armed men attacked a South African police car and freed six Zimbabweans who were being moved to another prison in Limpopo on Monday morning.
The gang had been arrested for various charges including robbery, attempted murder and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
In a statement Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said they had launched a manhunt for the gang that escaped with the gunmen as well as with a grey Mercedes Benz and a white Toyota pickup.
He said anyone with information should contact the nearest police station.
Brig Mojapelo said the incident happened along Vivo road next to the first Schoemansdal turnoff outside Louis Trichardt.
“The police in Makhado have launched a massive manhunt for a group of heavily armed suspects who attacked and shot at the police members transporting six awaiting trial prisoners and managed to free them on Monday (13 March 2023,” he said.
“The suspects thereafter took the six prisoners and sped off in a grey Mercedes Benz and a white Toyota pickup”.
He identified the escaped prisoners as; Forward Shumba (26), Shingirai Nyandome (32), Brilliant Sibanda (26), Erick Sithole (35), Moses Zambara (32), and Alex Nkomo (35).
Brig Mojapelo said the first five had been arrested for aggravated robbery, three counts of attempted murder and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, while Nkomo was arrested for theft of cables.
Limpopo police commander, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe has since mobilised police air wing among other elite police units to hunt for the prisoners and the gunmen.
She advised members of the community not to approach the suspects under any circumstances as they are considered dangerous, but must instead call the police.
She also said those with information may contact Colonel Nyelisani Mabatha on +2782 565 8171, or the police crime stop number +27860010111.
In October last year seven other Zimbabweans escaped from a prison in Eastern Cape.
They were identified as; Nhamo Muyambo, Francis Chitho, Trymore Chauke, Lubuyo September, Abraham Moyane, Simba Masinge and Bennet Kwarrile.
The gang escaped from Grahamstown Correctional Facility in Makhanda in the early hours of October 18.