Richard Gwesela

Richard Gwesela, was a notorious dissident, who terrorised the Midlands province shortly after independence and before the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.[1]


Gwasela joined the ZIPRA forces in the liberation war in 1976. When he returned from the war he joined the dissidents. Gwasela and his gang were involved in a spate of robberies and families in the Midlands region suffered because of their criminal acts.

Reign of Terror

Gwesela’s reign of terror started early in 1987 when he and his gang killed four farmers from Midlands at the Somabula Country Club.Government linked Gwesela to 21 other murders before he was killed leading to many ZANU-PF officials fleeing the Copper Queen area in the province.


The then Home Affairs minister said abortive attempts to capture Gwesela saw Government employing an offensive leading to the withdrawal of unformed security details from the area.

The authority introduced an “invisible task force” but Gwesela became more vicious leading to the contact where he was finally killed. Gwesela’s reign of terror that had spread throughout the country when Zimbabwe was returning to peace after the dissident era saw authorities to put out a countrywide alert for his arrest and later a whopping Z$50 000 reward for his capture, dead or alive.

The early stages of the manhunt, there was a mix-up in Richard Gwesela’s identity, but the police later clarified the situation after police discovered that another dead bandit had been identified as Richard Gwesela.


The then Home Affairs Minister Enos Nkala broke the news on September 18, 1987, that Gwesela, the notorious dissident, had been killed by security forces in the area. Nkala said Gwesela was shot dead together with three of his colleagues by the security forces at Chemagora communal lands. Another dissident was carried away by his colleagues after suffering serious injuries in the exchange.

Minister Nkala said during the Press conference: “We contacted his parents and they confirmed that the dead man was Gwesela, their son. We also notified Gwesela’s relatives and his uncle, Chief Gwesela, and they all confirmed that the dead man was indeed the notorious Gwesela.”[1]

Fugitive theory

Many people in Zhombe believe that Richard Gwesela is still alive. The talk is that he skipped the border when the heat from security forces mounted and sought refuge in South Africa where he is living a normal life out of crime.[1]

“No one in the area saw his body and even if you check with the family they would never show you where Richard was buried. Some even believe that the family agreed that the authorities had killed Gwesela because it had gone through a lot during his reign of terror. “The general feeling is that the mother was afraid that she would be tortured. She identified the bullet- riddled body as her son’s for fear of continued victimisation by the people and security forces who combed the area daily.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 [], The curse of Gwesela, Published: 13 September 2013 , Retrieved: 13 Feb 2013