Thou shall not kill! These words are no easy feed to the mind, especially if one has committed the most heinous deed of claiming one’s life.
For Kudakwashe Chuma, the year 1993 would remain a painful reflection of a life changing event.
Chuma, recalls how on that cold winter afternoon 27 years back he killed a man who had purportedly attacked him with an axe. His crime?
The murder of a married man who was accusing Chuma, a ‘bartender’ at a Bulawayo shebeen at that time, of selling alcohol to his wife thereby causing the woman to abandon her marital home.
According to Chuma, the now deceased Sibongilizwe Khumalo, stormed the shebeen where Chuma worked serving customers alcohol armed with an axe baying for blood.
It was after Khumalo missed his target that Chuma grabbed the axe and he struck him on the head, resulting in his death.
The pint-sized Chuma served time for 15 years and came out a changed man.
“I initially got a life in prison sentence and I spent two months at Khami Prison before I was transferred to Harare Central Prison where I stayed for a month. Thereafter, I went to Chikurubi Maximum Prison and I was happy to hear that I had been handed a reprieve to serve 15 years,” said Chuma better known as Mambo to his close associates.
His nickname comes from great King Mambo and it fits well with his rise from misery to glory on his coming out of jail.
While there are some who would shun a man who claimed a life, Chuma is one ex-convict that has changed the way society views prisoners.
Chuma is today the envy of the whole Nkulumane community, in particular the Munyoro Business Centre.
There is a good reason to it. His stay in prison was not as bad as many in the ‘free world’ would purport to.
Here is a man who met the infamous criminals Chidhumo and Masendeke at the heart of Chikurubi maximum prison.
He also met and shared time with the mercenary Simon Mann. But while he was inside, Chuma recoiled his conscience and renewed his life.
Two years ago he was the chairman of the School Development Committee (SDC) at Amavene Primary School in the high- density suburb of Nkulumane. Furthermore, he acquired skills in agriculture and his latest is being a shoemaker.
“While I was in jail, I developed a love for agriculture as I would take fellow inmates for practical and theory agriculture lessons. I also acquired shoe making and repair skills,” he said.
On his return to society on 6 June 2007, Chuma realised how valuable his skills would be to the Nkulumane community.
This is when he met the love of his life, Grace Pachiona, whom he eventually married in 2010.
“When I was arrested I had no girlfriend and I managed to stay in jail and came out clean. While inside I witnessed bad things like a man having sex with another. Being a God-fearing person, I told myself that this was not meant for me. On my release I met my wife Grace Pachiona,” he said.
After 15 years of incarceration, Chuma has some advice to those who are still living a crooked life.
“It is good for one to be a law-abiding citizen. One who follows the dictates of the Bible especially the Ten Commandments will never be caught on the wrong side of the law. If ever one finds himself or herself on the wrong side of the law, they shouldn’t think it’s the end of the world. In prison one can get a second chance on life,” he said.
On the afternoon of the interview with B-Metro, this reporter witnessed how helpful Chuma is to the Nkulumane community.
Residents prefer him to other cobblers and they regard him as an opinion leader in issues to do with crime.
When he went in, things like cellular phones were not heard of in this part of the world.
When he came out the cellphone had revolved into a smartphone – basically a lot happened while he was away.