Johannesburg: Five armed suspects tried to escape incarceration on Monday after appearing in a South African court but three were rearrested and one shot dead, while another slipped past police and is still at large, police said.
The five men were appearing before the Johannesburg high court in different cases when they made their attempted getaway just before lunchtime, stabbing two police officers.
Police spokeswoman Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said before they could flee the court building, one of the suspects was fatally shot, while three were seized by police, two of who were wounded.
"The circumstances surrounding the escape are still sketchy as police are on the scene with other role players, piecing together information," Peters said in a statement.
She said details of the fifth suspect who is on the run would be made public soon.
"At this stage, preliminary information suggests that the suspects were armed with knives as two police members were stabbed."
South Africa suffers from a stubbornly high rate of crime. Its murder rate has climbed steadily over the past six years.
According to police data, 58 people were killed each day on average last year. Most of the murders were carried out with guns, knives or other sharp instruments.