Eleven awaiting trial prisoners facing charges of murder, rape and robbery escaped from police holding cells in Hazyview on Monday morning, Mpumalanga police said.
Lt-Col Leonard Hlathi said two policemen heard a noise in the cells, went to investigate and were accosted, assaulted and robbed of a firearm.
"After this incident, 10 of the awaiting trial prisoners escaped through the door and one through the roof of the exercise cell," he said.
Hlathi said they had been arrested for crimes including murder, rape, armed robbery and hijacking.
He said the escapees were: Sipho Ngwenya (22), Mahlatse Matsane (32), Life Ubisi (23), Sipho Mndawe (38), Godfrey Hlongwane (29), Sandile Matsane (25), Stanley Masuku (27), Solomon Moses Mnisi (35), Paul Hlophe (24), Tshepiso Evidence Malope (30), and Thabiso Malope (30).