Richard Gwesela, was a ZIPRA member turned dissident, who operated in Midlands Province, Zhombe District and around, until his death was announced on 18 September 1987 shortly before the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987. [1]

Personal Details

Richard Gwesela was born to, Mrs Magubane Ndumo, who died in 2006. The father was not known.
Mr Faya Ndebele, one of Chief Gwasela’s advisors and aides, said: “His mother married into a big family" (in a polygamous family) "and he also had a big family with the last born coming in 1986 just before he was killed. We do not know where he was buried but his death actually brought relief to the family.”
Mr Ndebele’s sentiments were also echoed by another village elder, Mr Nobert Gwesela, who narrated how at one time the family were detained for assisting and abetting the dissidents.

No further information could be found.

School / Education

No information could be found on his Junior or High School, or any tertiary education.

Service / Career

He joined the Zipra forces in the Second Chimurenga 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.


According to records, 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 to flee the Copper Queen area in the province.
Authorities put out a countrywide alert for his arrest and later a whopping Z$50 000 reward for his capture, dead or alive.
In 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.
In September 1987, he was killed in an exchange of fire with Zimbabwean Security Forces. Home Affairs Minister (at that time) Enos Nkala announced on 18 September 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]

Many "facts" have led to a disbelief that it was Richard Gwisela who was killed. Speculation 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.

  • His "parents" could not have been contacted, nor confirmed, since his father was unknown.
  • A body had already been previously mistakenly identified as his.
  • The family had been detained and otherwise suffered, so to agree that he was dead was convenient.

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.

There are inconsistencies.

  • Reward was $50 000. Yet In silence, onlookers filed past his body sprawled beneath a wanted poster offering $30,000 for him, dead or alive.


  • Four year reign of terror. Yet According to records, Gwesela's reign of terror started early in 1987, and he was killed in September 1987. In what time was he linked to 21 other murders before he was killed.

During a period of great national tension - Gukurahundi, there was a lack of facts and journalistic integrity.

Further Reading



  1. 1.0 1.1 [], The curse of Gwesela, Published: 13 September 2013 , Retrieved: 13 Feb 2013
  2. The Curse of Gwesela, The Herald, Published: 13 September 2013, Retrieved: 19 November 2021
  3. Gang Leader Killed After 4 Years Of Terror, APNews, Published: 18 November 1987, Retrieved: 19 November 2021
  4. EXPOSED: Gwesela” Was A Police Dummy And His Real Name Was Zedious Mangena, Zim Eye, Published: 8 February 2020, Retrieved: 19 November 2021