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‘SIPHO SHONGWE ESCAPED FROM CUSTODY’

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MANZINI - Murder suspect, Sipho Shongwe’s extradition case took a new twist yesterday when a Barberton Correctional Services Head pleaded with the court to release him to their custody as he had allegedly escaped and had to finish serving his life sentence.


The official, Noah Sachason Nkosi, said his duties involved the management and security of the place, rehabilitation of offenders and to ensure the admission and release of offenders.


“Sipho Shongwe is a wanted man in South Africa. He was serving a life sentence when he escaped and was left with 12 years, 11 months and a few days to be considered for placement (parole).


“Not only is he wanted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) but the correctional Services too. After his escape, officers in South Africa were deployed all over to hunt for him. Kindly hand him over to us so that he could finish serving his life sentence, the earlier the better,” Nkosi said, much to the shock of a lot of people inside the courtroom. He said when he arrived at the Barberton Correctional Services Facility in 2015, he was given the task to manage it and there were about 1 300 inmates and 243 employees.


Nkosi said his other duties included familiarising himself with the whole administration centre and also going through records.


Records


“While going through the records, I noticed that there was a particular convict whose name was Sipho ‘City’ Shongwe, who was not fully accounted for in the records. In 2017, I made the discovery that the inmate had disappeared,” Nkosi said.
He revealed that in the records, it was disclosed that Shongwe allegedly escaped from the Correctional Services Facility in 2008 and the escape was reported to the SAPS, which was ordered to trace and rearrest him.


These are allegations whose varacity is yet to be tested in court.
Nkosi said Shongwe’s particulars were recorded in the system and after departmental investigations, it was also discovered that the escape matter was finalised and officers involved disciplined.


“However, I could not see the process of recapturing the convict who had escaped and I could not also be provided with a case number for the case which was alleged to have been opened with the SAPS,” Nkosi said.

The officer said he eventually opened a case during that year and deployed a number of officers to hunt for Shongwe, according to the Correctional Services Act, which states that an offender who had escaped had to be re-arrested and brought back to custody. “All offenders are eligible to be released on parole, due to good behaviour or medical grounds. The offender is sent home to serve the remaining sentence, however while monitored.


“The parole process entails a positive address which is confirmed by Correctional Services officers and if he is not a South African citizen, a deportation order is attached to the parole document and once it is received, it forms part of the address,” Nkosi said. He added that upon the offender’s release on parole, he is then taken to the Ministry of Home Affairs and informed of expectations, rules and regulations. Nkosi said the Home Affairs Department then takes that particular convict to his or her country of origin.

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