27/09/2017 14:47 SAST | Updated 27/09/2017 14:47 SAST

5 Daring Prison Escapes in South Africa -- From Using Vaseline To Bending Window Bars

How did they pull it off?

A prisoner attempting to escape.
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A prisoner attempting to escape.

A prisoner attempting to escape from Empangeni Medium Correctional Services Centre was found stuck on the facility's barbed-wire fence on Monday. Five other inmates, however, are still on the run.

The department of correctional services in KwaZulu-Natal in a statement said the group escaped through a communal window cell after forcefully bending the window's bars. They then jumped over the six-metre-tall barbed-wire fence, all except the unlucky inmate.

Prisoners at the country's facilities have successfully escaped in the past, and, dare we say, creatively so.

Here are our top five notorious escapes -- that have made us scratch our heads wondering how they pulled it off:

1. Ananias Mathe using Vaseline to escape

The late Mathe, convicted of rape and robbery, was dubbed South Africa's prison "Houdini" -- following his sensational escapes. He is the only person to have ever escaped from the maximum-high-security C-Max prison in Pretoria.

In 2006, he allegedly smeared himself with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and slid out of his cell window which measured only 20cm x 60cm. This was his sixth -- and first successful -- attempt at the prison.

However, he had escaped police custody before, in 2005. A few other unsuccessful attempts followed the C-Max escape.

There were claims that he received inside help in order to escape.

The Mozambican national died in 2016 of a health condition.

2. Goons intercept prison transport

In August, 20 prisoners awaiting trial escaped while being transported back to "Sun City" prison after a court appearance. A group of armed men reportedly ambushed the vehicle carrying the prisoners while it was en route. They broke the truck's lock and freed the prisoners.

At least seven of the 20 have been rearrested.

3. Prisoner escapes through swapping identification badge

In June, 43-year-old Phumzile Langeni allegedly walked out of St Albans prison in the Eastern Cape, in broad daylight. No one noticed he was missing until later that night.

It is suspected that Langeni, who was behind bars for a string of crimes, including robbery and attempted murder, switched badges with another offender. That offender had more free range because of his duties at the facility, compared with the cleaning job Langeni had, which limited him to only certain area on the premises.

Langeni was rearrested weeks later.

4. Prisoners escape by cutting a hole through the ceiling of their cell

In 2015, five prisoners escaped through the ceiling of their cell in Dundee prison in northern KwaZulu-Natal. In a statement, the department of correctional services said the daring escape was made by cutting a hole in the ceiling and roof of the cell before climbing out. They then jumped over a six-metre-high razor-wire fence.

They were later rearrested.

5. Prisoners escape through digging out a toilet in their cell

Six prisoners who were awaiting trial in Secunda, Mpumalanga, in 2013 allegedly escaped through a hole they had dug out of a toilet in their cell. The prisoners reportedly used a steel pipe to dig a hole around the ablution facility. Thereafter, they removed the toilet and broke bricks from around it and escaped through the hole.

Some of the men were later nabbed by the police.