Biography of Jailbreaker South African Donald Woods Part 3

About the South African jailbreaker Donald Woods, biography and history of the man who escaped from numerous prisons.

BUSTING LOOSE--INCREDIBLE ESCAPES

Donald Woods

At 6:00 P.M. on Dec. 31, the plan was put into action. Huddled under a blanket on the floor of the Mercedes, Woods lay inert as his wife carefully drove past the bored security guard at the street corner and headed for the city limits. Woods got out, kissed her good-bye, and hiked quickly down the dark road to the prearranged rendezvous spot where his friend, Drew Court, was waiting with two cars that had been hidden earlier. For the 185-mi. ride across the veldt, Court had provided twoway radios for both vehicles. Driving the lead car, he could thus warn Woods of the roadblocks that police often set up at night to intercept marijuana smugglers. Trouble, however, came from an unexpected direction. As they drove through low-lying areas, the special-frequency radios sputtered, then died entirely, reviving only after the road climbed into higher altitudes. Near Cathcart, Woods's battery gave out, a nerve-racking setback until he found that Court had brought along a spare. At Queenstown, a police van edged in between their cars for long, anxious minutes, but finally sped past. In Jamestown at midnight, a second patrol car pulled alongside Woods at a traffic light, but he ignored it. Just before dawn the two men reached the Telle River where it served as the boundary between South Africa and Lesotho. Abandoning the cars, they plunged into the scrub bush for the long walk to the normally narrow and shallow stream. To their dismay, they found that heavy rains had eroded the sandy soil of the riverbed into a series of parallel gulches 10 ft. deep. As they helped each other across the miniravines, Woods grimly kept reminding himself of the truism voiced by the African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, "There is no easy walk to freedom." On three occasions a powerful searchlight of unknown origin swept toward them, giving them the impression that they had been seen. But their luck held. On the Lesotho side, a brisk 5-mi. walk took them to where a third friend, Robin Walker, waited with another car. He jubilantly carried them to the offices of the British High Commission, where they asked for political asylum. The next morning the Woodses were united once again--and free.

Donald Woods has since settled in Great Britain where he and his wife have established the Information Service on South Africa to counter the propaganda efforts of the South African government.

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