Man escapes from Chawagona Hapana prison

ON a warm Monday morning, Kudzayi Brighton Tembo, a 23-year-old prisoner melted into the green maize and yellow banana fields at Chawagona Hapana, a prison in Mashonaland Central where no one has accomplished an escape in years.

On the day of the escape he was working in the fields, unchained with only one prison officer guarding him and four others, who were toiling outside enjoying the sun, far from prison walls.

As part of their rehabilitation programme, prisoners work the fields as the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) prepares them for readmission into society after paying for their crime.

This system is designed to reduce recidivism and improve the prisoners’ behaviour, skills, mental health and social functioning.

But Tembo chose to squander that goodwill — he bolted

It is suspected that Tembo, who was wearing a black T-shirt, slipped away around 10 am, a time when the sun shone brightly, and faded into the lush green plantations. 

He must have stripped off his shirt and crawled into the vegetation, now green and lush because of the rains.

Police have launched a manhunt for Tembo, who was serving a five-year jail term for unlawful entry and theft charges and was eligible for release in April, 2026.

Prison officers first searched the area but failed to locate him before handing over the matter to the police.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior officer said Tembo is of average height and light in complexion, with a Manica accent.

On the day he escaped, some people saw him, naked except for a pair of shorts. They dismissed him assuming that he was probably a mentally challenged person.

Police believe that he went back to his house in the Galiva area in Bindura and there his close friends and a relative concealed his whereabouts or assisted him to flee.

“He was incarcerated last year after being convicted of unlawful entry and theft charges. We urge people to report people who return back from prison under unclear circumstances,” they said.

“We incarcerate offenders to protect members of the public. Our job is to rehabilitate and equip them with skills so that they are reintegrated back into society as changed and better citizens.”

Often, prisoners are not happy with prison conditions and some might think of escaping.

This is the first incident at Chawagona Hapana prison in recent years but one incident was reported at Kingston Prison Farm in Mashonaland Central.

The senior officer appealed to members of the public with information on the whereabouts of Tembo to report to their nearest police station.

“We urge people to desist from sheltering fugitives or meting out instant justice. Effect a citizen arrest and hand him over to police,” they said.


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