Stanley Nleya was a Zimbabwean war liberation hero who was one of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) commanders during the liberation struggle. He was declared a national hero and was laid at the National Heroes Acre.
Stanley Nleya was born on 26 September 1947 in Masendu area in Bulilima District of Matabeleland South Province to Moli Kudlane and Emma Dube. He was the second child in a family of six, namely: Neli (late), Stanley, Royal, Barman, Guest and Mbigan. He used the pseudo name Elisha Gagisa during the liberation struggle.
He did his primary education in the same district before proceeding to Hope Fountain Mission for his secondary education. He also attended Inyathi Mission in Bubi District before abandoning school to join the liberation war in 1968.
He left school in 1968 whilst still at Inyathi Mission to join the liberation war. Nleya had his first military training at Morogoro in Tanzania where he was later elevated to the position of an instructor. He remained at Morogoro following the ZAPU split when the late James Chikerema left to join Froliz.
As an instructor some of the people who went through his hands are decorated freedom fighters such as the current Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Todd Mpisi, Rodwell Nyika (Retired Brigadier-General Collins Moyo), former St Paul's Assembly Point commander and frontal commander for NF1 and 2, Nicholas Nkomo. During the ZIPRA period Cde Nleya was the chief of staff for Mgagao Training Camp in Tanzania where his deputy was former Airforce commander, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri.
At independence he led the demobilisation process before being integrated into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) where he served as one of the senior commanders before being fired in early 1980s.
He rose from being a simple recruit to become one of the chief instructors, in 1974 he was deployed to Palestine together with Gen Sibanda for further training where they were seconded for attachment to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) where they were involved in combat with the Israelis.
He succumbed to heart disease on 16 June 2020 at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) in Bulawayo where he had been admitted. He was 72 at the time of his death. He was buried at the National Heroes Acre on 24 June 2020.