Notorious criminal Masendeke’s life relived through film

Report by Christina De Klerk

The late notorious armed robber Edgar Masendeke who was convicted for a spate of armed robberies and murder’s life is being relived through a film scripted by award winning filmmaker Rufaro Kaseke .

The  film based on the dramatic true story of the notorious murderer, rapist and armed robber is set to hit the big screen soon.

In an exclusive interview with Zim Morning Post, Kaseke  revealed that they are working closely with Masendeke’s close family members, his old friends who were with him in prison and other relevant people who were directly involved in the case such as the police, the justice department and various journalists who covered the story extensively.

“I realised the importance of telling this story truthfully, so we are taking our time in getting the correct info and record of his life before crime until his conviction,” he said.

“This movie was inspired by my desire to find out the real person behind the criminal, because criminals are fathers, they are family men, children and uncles.

“I wanted to humanise the person behind the criminal in a hope to see what exactly causes a person to be a criminal and the circumstances that this particular person faced to become that, in a hope to shed more light on such issues to avoid prejudices that come with these issues,” he added.

Speaking about how he comes up with film ideas, he mentioned that his ideas come from real life issues.

“I look at the issues that surround me and I try to interpret them into film as truthful as I can because I realise film has a massive power to shift perception,” he said.

Rufaro hopes the movie will teach young people how to handle life’s challenges in the context that no one is born a criminal, and it’s about how you handle the hardships and circumstances you come across in life that matters.

Various renowned filmmakers, directors and producers such as Joe Njagu, Gaffer Farai Chimombe and famous Cinematographer Eric Witzgall from Germany are expected to come on-board in the creation of the movie which is still in the early stages of creation.

He also mentioned that he’s looking forward to discovering raw talent on this project because he loves working with new people, however there will be some famous actors and actresses in the mix.

Rufaro explained that there are many problems faced with doing a project of this magnitude and he believes his previous experiences in the industry have equipped him for such glitches.

“Sometimes we work with difficult people and I’ve had to dismiss a lead performer six hours before the start of a production in a past production, which was very disastrous and we had to postpone the project by a week and a half so we could cast another actor who was from Bulawayo which threw the schedule out of the window and the project ended up becoming very expensive.

“Another challenge I remember was when I had to make the crew shoot outdoor scenes in Johannesburg on a very cold night which they were not used to, he said.While he was at Mutimurefu Remand Prison in Masvingo, Masendeke met Stephen Chidhumo in 1995. Together, they planned and made an escape from prison in November 1995 along with Langton Moses Zano, Langton Charumbira, and Jameson Maverudze Musara. They overpowered and forced prison guards into the cells before walking away.

Masendeke and partner in crime Stephen Chidhumo went on a series of armed robberies and murders in Masvingo,Midlands and Manicaland Provinces.

They were involved in several encounters with the police but managed to evade arrest. The duo would also go to Mozambique during that time.

At one point Masendeke accused his uncle in Gutu of selling him out to the police and severely assaulted and shot at his finger. Months later, Masendeke robbed him stole a television set, wall clock and solar panels. He then kidnapped and later released the uncle’s worker.

In 1997, Chidhumo was re-arrested in Mozambique. Masendeke was not arrested. In August 1997, Chidhumo, however, managed to escape from Chikurubi Maximum prison in a movie style fashion- feat few prisoners have managed to achieve at the facility.

Meanwhile, Kaseke is a famous filmmaker, director, cinematographer and editor who has worked on quite a number of successful projects such as Lobola, The Gentleman, Sores of Emmanuel, a recently released film “The Letter”, Elusive Horizon which was shot in England, due to be released this year and a television sitcom titled among many others.

He was also an understudy of a cinematographer from London called Kate on a film called Something Nice from London.

Currently a holder of Masters of Arts in Creative Digital Film production, he is working on a PHD program.

His greatest support, according to him, comes from his wife who is also a writer, producer and director which makes it easier to balance both his professional and family life.