A convicted killer was mistakenly released after he appeared at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on an entirely different charge. Phelo Mtala was convicted on three murder counts, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and assault with grievous bodily harm.
According to South African Police Services (SAPS) spokesperson FC van Wyk, Mtala has been at large since May 20.
“Members noticed that the mentioned suspect, who was brought from Pollsmoor Maximum, was nowhere to be found. The prisoner was meant to appear in court and then return to Pollsmoor. Police are in pursuit of the suspect and the investigation continues,” van Wyk said.
It is alleged that he was to appear in the High Court on an attempted murder case.
Speaking to IOL, Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) spokesperson Emerantia Cupido said the escape took place outside of JICS jurisdiction.
“This is a matter for the police, which is investigating and in pursuit to ensure that the inmate is returned to serve out his sentence. Once the inmate has been apprehended and returned to a correctional facility, JICS mandate would be performed in the interest of the human rights of inmates and in consideration of society at large,” she said.
Mtala has previously been convicted of crimes dating back to 2016. He was found guilty of the attempted murder of Mthetheleli Mkanda, who he shot in May 2016 and survived the attack.
In October, the same year, he shot Sizwe Madinga in a street in Gugulethu. Madinga got away, but Mtala and his friend followed him home where they then threatened his mother with a firearm.
Madinga’s mother tried to escape, but was shot and survived to tell the tale. Mtala was convicted of the murder of Anga Dekeni, whom he and his friends fired shots at his home.
He was also convicted of killing Solethu Nongenzi and Mzimasi Majelimane.