On August 18, 1997, Stephen Chidhumo and three accomplices escaped from Chikurubi Maximum Prison. In scenes reminiscent to Escape from Alcatraz, Chidhumo escaped with three others – ex-policeman Pedzisai Musariri, ex-soldier Elias Chauke and Mariko Ngulube – scaled the walls.
The four inmates disarmed one prison guard and fatally shooting another before climbing the 8-meter high prison wall using a rope made from their prison clothes. On the way over the wall, Mariko Ngulube broke his leg and was abandoned by his partners after 20 more metres into the escape.
The remaining three escaped the prison complex. However Musariri was later shot dead by law enforcement, Chauke was recaptured and Ngulube died from injuries sustained in the escape. Chidhumo escaped and was free to link up with long-time crimey Edgar Masendeke.
The Legend of Stephen Chidhumo and Edgar Masendeke
Stephen Chidhumo and Edgar Masendeke, better known as Chidhumo and Masendeke, were a Zimbabwean criminal duo who launched the only successful prison break of Chikurubhi Maximum prison.
Chidhumo and Masendeke in 1995 met at Mutimurefu Remand Prison in Masvingo where each was serving a 16 year imprisonment sentence. Together with Langton Moses Zano, Langton Charumbira and Jameson Maverudze Musara, the convicts escaped Mutimurefu Prison and fled to Mozambique. From Mozambique, Chidhumo and Masendeke went on a two-year crime spree in Masvingo and Manicaland Provinces.
In 1997, Chidhumo was re-arrested in Mozambique. He was charged and found guilty on 24 counts of various crimes and was sentenced to 30 years by a Masvingo Magistrate after a Regional Magistrate, Selo Nare had sentenced him to 42 years for other offenses which he committed in Manicaland. He was sent to Chikurubi Maximum Prison to serve his sentence.
On 18 August 1997, Chidhumo, however, managed to escape from Chikurubi Maximum Prison and re-joined Masendeke in Mozambique.
Arrest and Death
Masendeke was arrested after launch of “Operation Masendeke” by Zimbabwe Republic Police. On October 15 1997, the police swooped on Chidhumo’s Beira hideout, where he tried to attack them with a shovel, according to official accounts. He was, however, immediately immobilised, shot in the hip and thigh and brought back to Harare in an open police truck.
The two were convicted for several armed robbery cases, attempted murder and murder among other offences and were sent to the gallows in 2002. Masendeke and Chidhumo were executed at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in 2002.