A PRISON officer who owed a suspect US$120 settled his debt by helping him escape from jail, a court heard.
Skint Thulani Mhlanga, 35, had avoided paying Tauya Shepherd Maguwu for months when fate brought the two men together.
Maguwu, the court heard, was booked into Bulawayo Prison on a charge of unlawful entry.
On October 20, Mhlanga was picked as one of the officers to accompany the prisoner for a court hearing.
Malvern Nzombe, prosecuting, told the court that during a lunch break just after 1PM, Mhlanga did not lock up Maguwu – who had been remanded in custody to November 3 -- in the court holding cells.
Instead, the prosecutor said, Mhlanga handed Maguwu a T-Shirt and a pair of black trousers which he wore in place of his prison garb.
Now in civilian clothing, Maguwu then confidently walked out through the Court 2 dock to his freedom.
“Mhlanga did this as a way of paying back Maguwu his $120 that he had borrowed. He had failed to raise the money on his last pay day,” Nzombe told the court.
The fugitive’s freedom was short-lived though, the court heard, as he was apprehended a day later while hitch-hiking in Emakhandeni suburb.
Mhlanga, who was freed on US$20 bail, is charged with assisting prisoner escape.
His lawyer Simbarashe Chivaura told magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa that his client had been severely assaulted by detectives. Mhlanga showed the court his wrists which were swollen, and pointed to bruises and scars around both ankles.