Chikurubi Prison break: ‘Emmerson Mnangagwa saved convict Chauke’s life,’ recalls ex-prison officer

UNTOLD STORY: Mystery still surrounds the infamous 1997 Chikurubi prison break involving hardcore criminals Stephen Chidhumo, Pedzisai Musariri, Mariko Ngulube and Elias Chauke.

SELF Exiled former prison officer Shephered Yuda (50) has made sensational claims that President Emmerson Mnangagwa saved the life of an escaped convict Elias Chauke, upon his capture after the infamous 1997 Chikurubi prison break, Zim Morning Post has learnt.

Yuda made the claims in a recent live video which has gone viral on micro-blogging site Facebook.

He brags that where he was part of the operation to track and search for the convicts who had broken out of Chikurubi Maximum Prison in August 1997.

Chauke was part of the four notorious ‘celebrity criminals’ who included the legendary  Stephen Chidhumo, Pedzisai Musariri and Mariko Ngulube.

Ex-cop Musariri was shot dead, Ngulube died from leg wounds after he fell off the control tower and Chauke (ex-soldier) was captured and was saved by Mnangagwa, according to Yuda’s recollection

In his narration of the  prison break, Yuda said after Musariri was shot dead, they found Chauke who had climbed on top of a tree and captured him.

“When these bandits escaped we had to search around Kamunhu farm near the prison.

‘Helicopters came and lit the whole place with floodlights and we searched in the dam but found nothing.

‘Musariri made a blunder by covering himself with tree leaves on a rocky place.

“The guys said muti uyu haumere paruware and that is when we found Musariri and he was shot dead,” narrated Yuda.


“Chauke had climbed on top of a tree and when the police lit the place, they saw him when he opened his eyes .

“Paakadzika anga ari naked, and prison guards were angry because these bandits had killed one of ours so he was thoroughly beaten.

“He was saved by Mnangagwa (President) akabva asvika and he was minister of Justice otherwise angadai akaitwa minced meat.

“Mnangagwa akati arikumurova munhu  ndirikumudzinga basa, he must be in custody.(Mnangagwa stopped us from beating him and threatened to fire anyone who did not comply),” narrated Yuda.

Chauke was then whisked away by police vehicles awaiting court appearance and trial, he said.

Yuda said the search for Chidhumo continued since he was the only outstanding jail breaker not accounted for.

The search continued and chopper yaifuridza mumvura and found nothing, I realised that when we first went to look for them at Kamunhu Farm, takarumwa ne nyuchi ndopatikaziva kuti Chidhumo anga apinda nedifferent direction. (We were stung by bees and that is when we realised that Chidhumo might have set the bees on us and had used a different direction)

“We captured two, one dead and cordoned off the area,” said Yuda.

Chauke and Chidhumo were later to be hanged in 2002.

By then Chidhumo had been joined by his partner in crime Edgar Masendeke ,who was however not part of the ‘notorious four’, explained Yuda.

“People have a misconception that Masendeke was part of the August 1997 prison break, it’s not true.

“I vividly remember the day because Dynamos had played Arcadia United on the previous day, so when these bandits escaped some prison officers were preoccupied discussing about football, I also blame Dynamos for this escape (in jest),” he said.

“Masendeke was not there, he was captured in Mozambique where he was caught carrying a television set which had no papers.

“The Mozambican authorities took him to local police who failed to recognise him as he feigned a Portugeese accent.

“It took a clever policeman in Chipinge to recognise him and said matiigira member kai imi, ndiMasendeke ka uyu.

“He was then taken to Harare by CID and that is whjen he was caught.

“Coincidentally , it was at the time Chidhumo was on the run and Masendeke assumed he (Chidhumo) had sold him out and he told police on his whereabouts in Mozambique.

“That is when Chidhumo was caught busy doing gardening and he was shot on the hip,” recaptured Yuda.

Yuda’s narrative is however slightly in contrast with an ex-convict who claims to have been the mastermind of the escape, but developed cold feet on the Eleventh hour.

The ex-con Fungai Mutenda told local weekly The Sunday Mail last week, that after his escape, Chidhumo went on to reunite with his friend and partner in crime Edgar Masendeke, who was similarly on the run after escaping from custody.

This was a complete negation of Yuda’s account.

This gives credence to talk that the infamous 1997 Chikurubi prison break remains shrouded in mystery, as each participative story teller makes an effort to make a ‘hagiographic’ retelling of the prison break narrative.

“Chidhumo’s prison escape would not have possible if I had not played a major role,” Mutenda claimed.

Meanwhile, Yuda is famed for claiming to have  exposing how the late former president  Robert Mugabe rigged the ballot in the 2008 Presidential run-off.

He fled the country to the United Kingdom after the ‘expose’ and sought for a refugee status.


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