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Greased up "Houdini" slips S Africa prison

Written by: Staff
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JOHANNESBURG, Nov 20 (Reuters) One of South Africa's most notorious criminals escaped from a high-security prison by greasing himself up with petroleum jelly and squeezing out of a tiny window, local news reports said today.

Ananias Mathe, a Mozambican national awaiting trial on rape, murder and other charges, removed a bulletproof window at Pretoria's C-Max prison and pushed himself through the opening, which measured just 20 by 60 cm.

''We are devastated ... we will not sleep until we get him,'' police Captain Arnold Boonstra told Johannesburg's Star newspaper, which said the escape was ''Houdini''-style.

Police were not immediately available to comment.

News reports said the police were not able to explain how Mathe freed himself from handcuffs or give other details of the escape, the first reported at the top security C-Max prison in its 36-year history.

Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour called for an investigation into management at the prison.

''I don't think that any offender can just escape as easy as that from C-Max. I know C-Max, I've been there several times.

There must be some collusion that took place,'' the SAPA news agency quoted Balfour as saying.

REUTERS AB KP1816

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