The death in prison of the notorious criminal and escape artist, Ananias Mathe, brings to an end a chapter for our prison system. Mr Mathe was a serial rapist, robber and murderer and was serving a life sentence in the Kokstad  C Max prison.

Mr Mathe will be best remembered for his many escapes from prisons, including an “escape” from the Pretoria C Max prison. He was supposed to have used Vaseline to push himself through a small window, and then to have used a rope made of sheets and blankets to scale down one wall and up another. On another occasion, while awaiting trial, he was discovered with a dangerous weapon.

These incidents point not to Mr Mathe’s ingenuity or Houdini-like abilities, but rather to the depressing reality that offenders with large amounts of money made from the proceeds of crimes can bribe their way out of most situations. It is a tribute to the Kokstad C Max staff, and the prison’s security measures, that he was unable to escape from that prison.

It is considered impolite to speak ill of the dead. However, in the case of Mr Mathe, society is now free from a dangerous and malevolent individual.