Keyi Nkala
Keyi Nkala Dies
Born(1933-12-10)December 10, 1933
Matshetsheni, Matabeleland South
DiedAugust 3, 2021(2021-08-03) (aged 87)
Matshetsheni, Gwanda
Cause of deathCovid-19
Known forEscaping Grey Street Prison
Spouse(s)Vaina Dube

Keyi Nkala was a Zimbabwean war veteran. He was one of four Second Chimurenga fighters who escaped from the tightly guarded Grey Street Prison — now Bulawayo Prison — in 1965. He died on 3 August 2021 aged 87.


Keyi Nkala was born on December 10, 1933 in Matshetsheni in Matabeleland South. He was married to Vaina Dube and had 10 children, two sons and eight daughters.[1]


Nkala attended Stanmore Primary School before he left Rhodesia in 1964 to join the liberation struggle in Lusaka, Zambia.[1]

Second Chimurenga

He was among six pioneer freedom fighters credited with firing the first shots in the armed liberation struggle at Zidube Ranch in Kezi, Matobo District in Matabeleland South in September 1964.

Keyi Nkala escaped prison together with Moffat Hadebe, Elliot Ngwabi and Clark Ngiyo Mpofu. Mpofu’s offence was in connection with an explosive attack on Wilkie’s Circus, Tredgold Building and the Post Office. The attacks were carried out between August and September in 1964.

Nkala, Hadebe and Ngwabi were detained for attacking Zidube Ranch in Kezi, Matobo District in Matabeleland South in 1964.

The property belonged to the then Bulawayo senior magistrate, Francis Fairwell Roberts.

The Zidube Ranch attack, which they executed together with Israel Maduma, Roger Matshimini Ncube and Rhodes Malaba, was their first target in the country upon their deployment to Rhodesia.

Hadebe, who commanded the unit, said Keyi Nkala was the first person to use a machine gun in the country during the liberation struggle when they attacked Zidube Ranch. Hadebe said they failed to accomplish their mission of killing Francis Fairwell Roberts.

Nkala together with Hadebe, Mpofu and Ngwabi fled to Botswana after their daring jailbreak. However, Nkala together with Mpofu and Ngwabi were captured and deported to Rhodesia. They were detained at Khami Prison.[1]


Nkala succumbed to Covid-19 on 3 August 2021 at his rural home in Matshetsheni under Chief Masuku area in Gwanda District.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mashudu Netsianda, Jailbreak freedom fighter Cde Keyi Nkala dies, The Chronicle, Published: August 5, 2021, Retrieved: August 5, 2021