The yet to be identified prisoner believed to be in his twenties and is reportedly awaiting trial for rape was however recaptured moments later by members of the public.
According to eyewitnesses, the man was spotted from the prison’s roof, less than ten metres away from the guardroom before jumping down to the pavement at around 3pm.
“My heart stopped for a moment when l saw him jump from the roof, the prison official at the guard room had been on his phone for some time and luckily another prison official was walking on the street when it happened and he spotted him,” said Sikhanyisiwe Moyo, a street vendor.
Moyo said the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway was temporarily closed as the prisoner and the security guard wrestled in the middle of the road before the former removed his shirt and took to his heels semi-dressed.
His freedom was however short-lived as members of the public from a nearby taxi rank joined the chase and caught up with him less than a kilometre from the prison.
He is likely to appear in court soon for escaping from lawful custody.
Members of the public criticized the laxity at the prison saying officials were concentrating on running income-generating projects than looking after inmates as it emerged the prisoner who escaped had been left unattended whilst talking to his mother.
Prison guards sell vegetables outside the prison and run a car-wash manned by dangerous criminals as a way of raising funds for the upkeep of inmates.
Members of the public questioned how the prisoner had managed to climb to the roof from inside the prison unnoticed but officials remained tight-lipped about the incident.
A walk past the prison today showed a marked presence of prison guards, they have also been calls for the construction of a new prison to cater for dangerous criminals.