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Back behind bars
by Amin George Forji
2006-12-10 11:01:15
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Mozambique born Ananias Mathe, 29, generally referred to as South Africa’s most wanted criminal is not only very dangerous in the true sense of the word, but more importantly a mysterious figure. He has escaped from prisons on several occasions, only to aggravate his evil operations, his recent escape from the C-max prison in Pretoria was the most mischievous so far.

He became the very first person to ever escape from that prison and is said to have greased himself with enough Vaseline to squeeze through the tiny cell window measuring just 20cm by 60cm. Once out of the cell, he evaded all the security guards until his recapture last week by private security guards, and handed over to the police.

Ananias Mathe bookmarked by the South African police as the “ultimate criminal” was convicted last December on 51 counts, including murder, rape, hijacking and armed robbery, illegal possession of arms, and perturbation of justice. He is said to be very skillful, having received serious military training way back in Mozambique.

After escaping from prison two weeks ago, the police launched a “huge national manhunt” for him. The police were tipped off several times, but each time their operation came to nothing. At one point, the police mistakenly shot and wounded a priest who was identified by a member of the public to be the disguised prisoner.

Despite the manhunt for him, the interesting thing to note is that in the end it is not the police but rather a private security guard company called Altech Netstar that captured Mathe. He is said to have stolen a car fitted with a tracking device, and it is through the device that he was pursued with the aid of a helicopter belonging to Altech Netstar, although at the time, the identity of the criminal was not known. Before stealing the car, Mathe beat and tied up the owner, Cameron Meiklejohn with her daughter.

The security company alerted its other employees around Johannesburg. When eventually he abandoned the car to run on foot, two employees of the security company ran after him into a house northeast of the city, in Ivory Park near Tembisa on the East Rand. Two boys playing in the yard of the house pointed out Mathe’s hiding place to the security guards, who then immediately confronted him. One of them, Joseph Makula was stabbed in the eye with a screwdriver by Mathe. His colleague, Piet Botha replied by firing three shots at him, hitting him in the legs and on the buttocks.

The security guards said they had no idea they were after Mathe. The man who was stabbed, Joseph Makula, said, "When he stabbed me, I realised that he was someone who knew what he was doing. It feels great that we caught him." The managing director of Altech Netstar, Andy Baker, while proud of his guards, said it did not discredit the police.

A special cell has now been set aside for Mathe at the same C-max prison in Pretoria, from where he escaped, and the police is now confident that he has now been brought in never ever to escape again. He is presently receiving treatment at a local hospital on his broken leg, under heavy security guard.

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