Prison authorities in South Africa have launched a manhunt for Clatta Gumbo, a Zimbabwean inmate who on Monday staged a dramatic escape from custody after overpowering his guard when he was briefly booked out of the correctional facility to consult a dietician.

Gumbo had been serving life sentence at Baviaanspoort Correctional Centre in Tshwane following his conviction for rape, kidnapping, and assault August 2018.

He was on Monday escorted to Mamelodi Regional Hospital but seized the opportunity to disarm his guard and vanish from the hospital vicinity.

“The Department of Correctional Services, working with other law enforcement agencies, is conducting a widespread search operation to locate and apprehend offender Clatta Gumbo who escaped on Monday, 12 February 2024 from the grounds of Mamelodi Regional Hospital,” read a statement Tuesday.

“He was escorted to the hospital for a consultation with a Dietician when he attacked the guarding official, disarmed him and escaped from the hospital premises.

“An immediate action has been taken to initiate a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the escape.”

Prison authorities reiterated their commitment to public safety, adding they were taking every possible action to recapture the prison escapee as soon as possible.

They called on anybody with information that could lead to the arrest of the fugitive to contact their nearest correctional facility or local police station.