Shot, shackled rhino accused escapes

Suspect breaks out of East Cape hospital while under police guard

A rhino poaching suspect – shot, shackled to a bed and under police guard – managed to vanish from an Eastern Cape hospital yesterday. Despite being chained to the bed and seriously wounded, Sydney Malose, 35, who was shot on an Eastern Cape reserve last week, escaped from Frere Hospital in East London, writes Gareth Wilson.

Malose was arrested following a dramatic shoot-out on the Great Fish Nature Reserve near Alice on Wednesday last week.

Yesterday morning, police set up a team to try to establish how Malose had escaped, leaving behind just a pair of bolt cutters.

Police were tight-lipped when asked where the police guard had been and how many suspects were thought to have helped break him out of the hospital.

Malose was arrested during a manhunt on the 45 000ha reserve, which belongs to the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.

Yesterday it emerged that this year alone there had been four attempted poachings on the reserve.

The search, which stretched over several hours, saw police, rangers, two helicopters and a spotter plane comb the reserve.

They found the three poachers hiding in the bushes preparing to shoot a rhino.

The reserve is made up of the Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve, Double Drift Kudu Reserve and Double Drift Nature Reserve.

Provincial police spokesman Captain Khaya Tonjeni said the man was believed to have escaped early yesterday.

“He was arrested and charged for rhino poaching in Alice. Circumstances around this escape form part of the investigation and disciplinary steps will be taken if it is discovered that the member who was on guard during the escape has acted negligently.

“Police are busy with efforts to track the suspect and re-arrest him,” Tonjeni said.

Investigators said Malose had been taken to hospital on Wednesday following the shoot-out.

Rangers found tracks leading into the reserve during an early morning patrol on the reserve.

An official said the poachers had been following rhino spoor to locate them deep in the bush.

By midday, a team of rangers spotted the three poachers, leading to a shoot-out.

“Of the three, one was armed with a 375 hunting rifle. They were stalking a rhino when the rangers stumbled onto them,” the official said.

“Several warnings were yelled at the three but instead of surrendering, they started shooting.”

Rangers returned fire, hitting Malose in the left leg and arm.

“The other two managed to escape during the confusion. The area was combed but they were not found.”