A talented playwright and actor, who was released from prison on medical grounds has started working on a film that relives his journey to Khami Prison where he had been jailed for 41 years for armed robbery, car hijacking and assault.
Webster Ndlovu (34) benefited from a Presidential pardon two years ago on medical grounds after having served seven years of his prison sentence.
In an effort to understand Ndlovu’s story, B-Metro visited the ex-convict last week.
“I was sentenced to 41 years in prison way back in 2014 after I had been found guilty of having robbed, raped, carjacked and assaulted.
With these issues having been raised in court the magistrate was left with no option but to send a serious message to other guys out there that such behaviour was not acceptable in our society so they thought it was rather wise and better to send me to prison for 41 years,” he said.
The ex-convict said soon after being convicted, he almost collapsed as he felt that the sentence was rather too harsh.
But he later realised that the court officials were serious, when the prison officers were instructed to take him away since the courts had finished with his case.
“Soon after being convicted I never thought I was going to survive in prison because the sentence was rather too heavy for me.
“The prison officers immediately took me to Khami Remand Prison, where I met some guys who were already serving for different crimes they had committed,” he said.
Ndlovu said when he arrived at Khami Remand he met Philani Mabaso, a National merit award winner in the traditional dance group (Nama). They were long-time friends who had both been groomed at Amakhosi as both actors and dancers.
“When I got to Remand, Philani was the first person that I knew and he quickly helped me adjust to the new environment and while in prison we decided to form our own comedy group called Top Class Production.
“This was a two-man cast which was into comedy and this combination rocked all the four prisons at the Khami complex as we used to have arts competitions,” he said.
Ndlovu said their popularity saw them being invited to participate in programmes that had been organised by different organisations that included National Aids Council (Nac).
“We might have been in prison, but we were given an opportunity to present our concepts in the form of plays entertaining our brothers and sisters who were serving with us during that time.
“This entertainment and educative programme was held in the form of competitions and at the end of the day we were awarded with toiletries.
It was all smiles when we were approached by the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Prison ambassador Clarence ‘Kirah’ Garura who further nurtured us through his organisation Inside Out Development Trust.
“Ambassador Kirah helped us a lot and he would always encourage us to be masters of our own destinies.
We even participated in the Inside Out Talent Show and were part of the winners,” he said.
The ex-convict said his world later started falling apart after three years as one of his legs started swelling.
This problem saw Ndlovu being bedridden for more than one year as he could not walk.
“It was soon after a soccer match that we had at Khami Maximum Prison when I started feeling strange pain on one of my feet.
“This pain saw my leg swelling and since then my health deteriorated such that I was bedridden for more than one year.
I remember Philani visiting me at Khami Maximum and he actually cried as this meant that our productions were now going down the drain.
“In our discussion we agreed that I start writing plays for a group called Khami School of Arts which is a comedy group based at Khami Maximum Prison.
In rehearsing these plays they would come to the hospital where I was housed for me to direct their plays and some of their plays were taken for competitions with groups from outside,” he said.
The ex-convict said his health condition continued to deteriorate and prison officials thought it best for him to be released.
“The management of Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) later realised that my health was not getting any better so they recommended that I be taken home for close monitoring by my family.
“I was later released to my family for close monitoring and my condition since then has been improving a bit and right now I am working on a script meant to tell my story,” he said.
Ndlovu said the play meant to educate people out there that for sure crime does not pay.