Zambezi Prison Break

Masule Mutolwa

… “When they want to escape, they start making noise or singing loud”

Zambezi regional commander commissioner Andreas Shilelo says the police have launched an investigation into how 12 trial awaiting inmates escaped custody this week, and how they managed to smuggle blades into the cells.

Among the escaped suspects is Masule Mutolwa, better known as Nine, a notorious criminal with previous convictions and a record of several escapes from lawful custody.

In a telephonic interview with The Namibian yesterday, Shilelo said an investigation will be conducted to verify if the police were negligent.

“In this case, we launched an investigation to see whether the members on duty were not negligent. We have already fixed the roof and re-enforced it to make sure that it’s not penetrable in the future,” he said.

According to Shilelo, the trial awaiting Namibian and Zambian suspects escaped at around 01h00 by cutting through an iron ventilation section of the roof in the cell using saw blades smuggled in.

He said it appears the suspects meticulously planned the escape over time as they made ropes from blankets and smuggled in the saw blades.

He said the police are determined to strengthen their systems.

“We admit that being able to smuggle in the saw blades is a weakness on our behalf. However, we will not dwell too much on what happened, but rather on ensuring that nothing of this nature happens [again],” he said.

Shilelo said the investigation will also focus on how long the inmates they were planning their jailbreak.

According to Shilelo, the escapees, along with 109 trial awaiting inmates, were in the cell at the time of their escape.

He said they only noticed that the inmates escaped in the morning and launched an immediate search party that has resulted in the arrests of four escapees so far.

“These prisoners, when they want to escape or do something illegal, they would start making noise or singing very loud so that you would not hear anything. As a result, the police did not detect the noise [sic]. Another theory is that seeing that there are renovations underway at the station and there is noise, they might have been cutting through the roof for some time during the same time that the labourers were busy so as not to raise suspicion,” he said.

As far as the re-arrest of the four escapees are concerned, Shilelo said community members and members of community policing were very helpful.

“We are working hard to re-arrest the remaining suspects, though we might encounter some difficulties, because five of them are Zambians. However, we have sent a team to Zambia to trace them with the help of our counterparts,” he said.


In 2016, Mutolwa was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by the Mukwe Periodical Court for escaping from custody and maliciously damaging state property.

He is alleged to have used an iron bar to break the lock of the cell he was temporarily detained in after he was involved in a fist fight with another inmate earlier the day.

At the time of his escape, Mutolwa was already serving a two-year sentence at the Divundu Rehabilitation Centre for escaping from lawful custody in October 2015.

In April 2016, Mutolwa was jailed by a Katima Mulilo magistrate for escaping while awaiting trial on two counts of rape, three counts of housebreaking, and two counts of murder, among others.

He was arrested at the border town of Sesheke in Zambia in April after having been on the run for six months, following his escape from the Katima Mulilo police station in October 2015.

Mutolwa was released from prison last year, however, he was re-arrested last month after he was involved in several housebreak-in cases at Katima Mulilo.

Mutolwa, along with Joseph Paul Tupila (27), Nawa Mbwita (24), Ben Mbwita (30), Ben Austo (25), Masiye Mishake (27) Musole Eric Kamutumwa (36) and Mwala Lubinda (34), are still at large.

The police re-arrested Mibonda Muswalezi (23), Mubita Mbangu (18) and Swanelo Immanuel (age unkown) on Monday, while they arrested the fourth suspect yesterday.

Regional police spokesperson inspector Kisco Sitali only confirmed the arrest of the fourth suspect, but could not provide his name.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the escapees should call Katima Mulilo police station commander chief inspector Charles Mayumbelo on 081 237 9628 or deputy commissioner Joseph Nehemia on 081 243 3271, or report to the nearest police station.

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