Five highly dangerous awaiting trial prisoners escaped from the Wellington Prison in Mthatha on Sunday, Eastern Cape police said.

“The prisoners managed to escape at 3:15am this morning by sawing through the burglar guards of their cell room with a hack-saw,” said Superintendent Mzukisi Fatyela.

“They managed to get to the front gate of the prison and stabbed two wardens on duty in the face and hand. One of the warden’s service pistol was also stolen…they then ran off into the open field.”

The prisoners, Kholekile Mphiti, 32, Gcinile Mathe, 30, Nkosi Phendule Daluka, 30, Bulelani Diko, 25 and Sizwe Sibokoza, 25 were awaiting trial for murder — including that of two police officers at the beginning of October — house robberies, armed robberies and hijacking.

“Police have been alerted at all districts in Mthatha…they have been searching since the escape, but have not been successful as yet…we will catch them.

“They are highly dangerous and the public should be on guard at all times.”

Fatyela said police were not sure where the prisoners got the hack-saw from.

The wardens were in a stable condition at Nelspruit hospital.