Typed verbatim from the Johannesburg Saturday Star, Sept. 13 2003:
Durban – A convicted prisoner, with no legs, managed to escape “unnoticed” from his guarded bed in hospital.
Two months later, he is still on the run (or should that be crawl?) and the law enforcement authorities appear to be stumped.
Francois Johannes Pieterse, who had been serving a 10-year sentence at Westville Prison in Durban for fraud and for impersonating a doctor, was taken to the city’s King Edward Hospital for a condition doctors describe as diabetes and gangrene.
But, even the provincial Department of Correctional Services spokesperson, Vusi Shabalala, has no idea whether Pieterse had his legs amputated in King Edward Hospital or was admitted to the hospital already legless.
What is known is that when he escaped, he had no legs and that he either escaped in a wheelchair or was carried off by unknown accomplices.
The Correctional Services guard who was assigned to Pieterse has been charged with negligence.
Shabalala said that although Pieterse’s escape occurred on July 18, he had only yesterday been given the report on the incident.
“It is quite absurd that this office is reporting the incident so long after it happened,” he said.
Pieterse, who was sentenced in 2001, had 14 previous convictions for impersonation and fraud and was serving a second prison term. – Own correspondent