Former death row inmate outlives judge, prosecutor, lawyer and state witness

By Nqobile Tshili

A man from Esigodini who was sentenced to death in 1985 has outlived the judge, prosecutor, State witness and his lawyer who were all involved in his case.

In 1985, Mr Albert Gasela, now 69, was convicted for murdering his tenant in Barbourfields, Bulawayo and sentenced to death.
In 1985, Mr Albert Gasela, now 69, was convicted for murdering his tenant in Barbourfields, Bulawayo and sentenced to death.

In 1985, Mr Albert Gasela, now 69, was convicted for murdering his tenant in Barbourfields, Bulawayo and sentenced to death. At that time, he never thought he would taste freedom once again, little did he know that life had something else in store for him.

Mr Gasela appealed against the death penalty and his sentence was commuted to life in jail.

On Tuesday he turned up at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Week at Bulawayo Prison and told The Chronicle of his story of escape from the jaws of imminent death.

“I was facing a murder charge. After I was charged and convicted of first degree murder I lost hope on everything. My life had ended. I was arrested in 1983 for murdering my tenant and convicted in 1985 but I still insist I never killed him,” he said.

He said while in prison, his wife died. He applied to go to bury her, but the process took too long until she was buried in his absence. Mr Gasela says he served in prison for 22 years at Chikurubi in Harare and later Khami Maximum Prison in Bulawayo after his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

He was finally released in 2007 after becoming one of many prisoners who were pardoned by President Mugabe.

Upon gaining freedom, to Mr Gasela’s surprise, all the people who were involved in his case had died.

“I was sentenced in 1985 but when I was released from prison, all the people who were connected to my case had died. Judge Muchechetere was late, my prosecutor Brasel Siki, my lawyer Richard Ncube were also late. Even the State witness who was my girlfriend at the time is also late,” he said declining to name her.

The ex-prisoner said the person he had wanted to talk to the most was the State witness as he does not understand why she nailed him.

Mr Gasela said his girlfriend testified in court that she found him in bed shaking following the murder and it was this evidence that led to the judge to convict him. He says he has since started a new life; remarried and has been blessed with a child, now two.

Reflecting on his life in prison, he says he never thought he was going to be alive up to this day.

He said when Justice Simbarashe Muchechetere handed him the death sentence at the High Court in Bulawayo, his life literally ended. Mr Gasela said what made matters worse for him was that he worked at the prison workshop making coffins that were supposed to bury those on death row.

“Word would spread that 10 coffins have been made in the workshop which meant that 10 people will be hanged and that the guards would come at 5AM to collect prisoners selected for the hangman’s noose. You wouldn’t know if it was your turn,” he said.

He said during those years, some welcomed their fate, but others would fight tooth and nail not to be hanged.

“Those who didn’t fight were hanged peacefully. However, those who resisted, there was a special place for them, where they were placed in a small corridor that has a trap door to execute them,” he said.

Mr Gasela said being on deathrow was a nightmare as one did not know when the time to face the hangman’s noose would come.

“I was the 46th prisoner to be on deathrow during our time. But this didn’t matter because they were not following any order as prisoners were randomly picked to be hanged. Every time other prisoners were taken the incident left us traumatised, you wouldn’t eat on that day,” he said.

Mr Gasela says following a successful appeal in 1993 the courts reduced his sentence to life in prison.

He said it was a huge relief to know that he would not worry about being hanged again.

Mr Gasela said freedom finally came in 2007 due to a Presidential pardon. He said before his incarceration he was blessed with six children who are all still alive, but he found his wife dead. Mr Gasela said spending 22 years in prison was not easy but support from family has kept him going.

“The only thing that kept me going was that my family, relatives, didn’t desert me. They’d visit me periodically in prison. This made me remain hopeful that one day I’d be reunited with them,” he said.

He says having spent 22 years in jail, all is not lost as he has managed to transform his life but what pains him the most is that his first wife died while he was still in prison.

On a lighter note, Mr Gasela said due to his long service in prison, he was the head of the welcoming committee for new inmates coming into prison.

He said he now makes a living from making coffins, a skill he learnt in prison. “The only mistake that I have made so far is not making my own coffin,” he joked. The Chronicle

  • Sad story but truly #motivational!

    • Tsakatire

      But the story clearly states “wife” and “girlfriend” mean madala was two timing

  • What an achievement??

  • Nxaa! not inspiring at all. This swan should have sent to meet his ancestors long time ago

    • mabwe

      Gift don’t be like that. God has plans for everyone of us. Be blessed today and forever.

  • You forgot to say he outlived his victim as well

    • Asante Kotoko

      His alleged victim you mean?

      • Giant Gold Goliath

        Err, you’re really gonna direct a joke?

  • While happily narrating your ordeal and how luck you we’re to escape jaws of death You must remember how ruthless you were You disrepected other pple’s right to live You chose to kill A child was left without a mother a mother was left a widow becoz of your foolish actions

    • Thank you Irving I knew he did something horrific. He had the nerve to brag about outliving those that were associated with his case. I have know doubt on mind that he will be rewarded one day soon rather than later. He is just another useless piece of shit.

  • That is what we call news

  • lucky man

  • eliah

    anenge Mukadota

  • What about his victim or victims

  • Thank your ancestors mnumuzana Gasela!

  • Outliving all the parties involved in your case does not diminish the severity of your crime. I do not know the details of your situation but i am sure your are not the most pleasant person in Zimbabwe.

  • …and he is happily and proud for that out living crap?How does he feel about the crime he was convicted for???Anyway its also also a warning to those guys with good well paying jobs>>STOP having careles irresponsible SEX!!Aids is real and it still wipes you off!The prosecutor and judge in that case became obvious victims of the dreaded pandemic.We know this and we know how Hiv/Aids has wiped out our friends and relatives and murder convicts survived death and now BOAST about it.

    • Did you just say the prosecutor and judge who handled his case died of HIV? Did you just insinuate that those two lived irresponsibly hence their demise to the virus?I am dumbfounded by your statement and audacity to judge.

    • I guess death is inevitable sooner or later ever1 meets his/her fate

    • Bryton Masaila but Cde,would it be proper to assume the cause of one’s death and completely turn a blind eye on the facts of the matter being reported here?Death,yes,it is unavoidable but it is not for us to judge who dies of what or who died of what.

    • offside cde

    • BT why? 😨😨😨

  • hoo ndiye wataiti Gwasela tichiri vadiki

  • and he will outlive the writer of this story as well

  • and he will outlive the writer of this story as well

  • time to ask for forgiveness and repent

  • Abandon death penalty.It doesn’t do any justice

    • I totally agree with u

    • I respectfully disagree, there are some animals in human flesh.Tell me the best way to deal with an individual who gets to a house with a machete and butcher 6 family members (4 grown up women, one 4 year old and one todler).Jailed, escapes….get caught.Surely if relatives of the deceased hear you they will wish you were in their shoes.

    • Emmanuel Edmos, I thought I must take you through the malignancy of a typical criminal justice system, but that will waste your time.

      May you answer this question for me.Why would someone storm a hotel room and beat a teenager with an electric cable to the extent of an injury, yet still has a guarantee of prosecution immunity?Elitism and the powerful right?After you answer this question, I will be interested to know if you are still a proponent of the diabolical death penalty.

      It doesnt’t do any justice neither to the victims nor the convicted.How many people have had their long term sentences rescinded because the judgement was erroneous?Had they been on the death row, surely that would have been injustice.

      It is well proven that, when one does something too wrong to the dismay of society at large, they tend to resort to suicide.In other words, a killer is most likely going to prefer death penalty in a bid to get over their acts of evil.Now that is an out of jail card.

      Give them the most limited space ever on earth, where they will live regretting what ever that was good about this world, yet missing it so much.People like Mr.Gumbura would testify this I guess.Now that’s punishment.

      Like I often say, death penalty is a barbaric relic of the bygone era.It must be abolished.

    • If you are as bright as your writting and choice of words suggest then you must be in a position to know a person s not given a death penalty today and sent to the guilotine tomorow.It takes years if not decades of appeals and scruitinization of judgement until execution. There are people who dont deserve to live,you would know this only if you followed law issues,court cases and ull’d know there are a certain calibre of people with extreme barbarism.We are talking about someone who kill 6 people with a machete,you tell me lock him up so he regrets????Regret!??You expect a feeling of regret from someone who chops heads of 1……2……..3…….4………5…….6 people without remorse and feeling what so ever…you tell me lock him to regrett?? Where you are mistaken is you think death penalty is put to teach the villain a lesson,Hell No.If the public knows the state will go thus far for such acts you will record minimum cases of such madness.When the notorius Chidhumo was killed we lived decades before hearing such..up to now no one has been like him because an example was set .Remove death penalty and ull record murder every single day.You say death penalty doesnt undo what has been done???It pemanently though faded but a form of justice and closure.

    • And the fact that on a topic of Death Penalty you bring in petty issues of cable insults,shows you have no idea what we are talking about and where death penalty is used/executed.Your examples worst case scenario is paying fine,community service or less than a month in jail,so please dont raise cable issues on a ropic like Death Penalty. You are talking about Gumbura,if you follow his case even after he was jailed you would know about a scenario where he almost successfully led a huge inmates escape from Chikurubhi maxmum Prison..and they burnt part of the prison.Now tell me had he successfully escaped tell me the troamer,the shivering,the fear of the victims that suffered at his hands.I bet some would have comitted suicide knowing their ‘devil incarnate’ escaped.You wont understand the importance of such a clause if you never eye witnessed peoeple being butchered or having a close one experience that. And its not every murder or rap that deserve the ultimate punishment but there are worst case scenarios that no punishment other than death is deserved.

    • The fact that you have refused to answer my question actually makes the case why this act of evil must be abolished.You don’t wanna comment on the impact of politics and elitism right?You are afraid of the fact that the most powerful man in the country has the authority to appoint the highest attorney and judge in the country wih equivalent powers to sack them.

      Do you even listen to yourself when you say cable news issues, petty issues?Do you know what is petty?You think if the most powerful channel the vulnerable towards lethal injections, gallows and electric chairs that’s petty?Inmates run away because of weak security systems simple which include collusion with prison officers.

      When I quoted Gumbura, that is an example of a life sentence.I know more than you do probably that it takes years to appeal and scrutinize a death sentence.I follow the court cases time and time again, including judicial precedence too.My conclusion remains the same.Death penalty is diabolical.

      You seem not to understand how unjust the criminal justice system is.For as long as someone gets prosecution immunity on the basis of their political position or influence, I say no to death penalty.This is the bottom line.

      England, South Africa, Australia among others have abolished death penalty.There is nothing that indicates that in the presence of gun control laws, crimes increase due to the absence of death penalty.

      Why have you not commented on the cases of treason?So if one criticises the president and somehow is convicted of treason, they deserve to die?You are not very eloquent on the extent to which the law puts people on electric chairs, gallows or lethal injections.These are the loopholes which make us liberals question whether death penalty should stay.

    • The very reason Zimbabwean criminals are unlike their SAfrican counterparts,…trigger happy..! Im conflicted on the death penalty soley on the issue of wrongful conviction…!! Else,…an eye for an eye,…! Look at the statistics of most countries which still carry the death penalty and compare to those which don’t..!! The correlation is startling…!!!

    • What about here in United States.A gun man just shot 200 people, killing 59.What do you say about that?Yet there is death penalty.Let us not confuse a case of poor gun control laws and effect of death penalty.

      Both South Africa and USA have poor gun control laws.If they confiscate guns from the people, our argument won’t be same.

    • Bianca Cook The death penalty is not a deterrent. This is factual, and can be confirmed by any human psychology study on the subject. The eye for an eye argument is one of revenge, and not based on objective analysis of the issue, hence purely emotional. People deep down do not think they’ll get caught. Otherwise they wouldn’t commit the crime. In crimes of high passion, all considerations are cast aside. It’s that simple. It’s related to gun proliferation only in numbers, but not in principle. However, those are two different discussions. The argument of cost is one where death penalty opponents win hands down. Considering the obvious need for a balanced and drawn out appeals process, especially in light of the sheer number of wrongful incarcerations due to racial or social profiling, in addition to the many politically forced judgements replete with planted evidence and buried evidence, the monetary cost of the death penalty is immense, and to no real benefit.

    • The African psyche is quite different Anders. The minute SA abolished, death by crime rates escalated..! Zimbabwe, which is in possibly its worst economic decline ever has crime, just not trigger happy killers..! Capital punishment is still applicable..!

    • My guy you are out of touch with reality.You want me to talk about treason? That’s the least senseful point from all you said which is why I deliberately omitted it.But if if you want me on it cool.Ill say this again, you dont understand how such a law works, you say you follow these things but your utterance doesnt rubberstamp. We have had over 15cases of treason since independence, non of all ever got convicted. Dont get your head twisted with the state wrongfully accusing a person and law.The same judges appointed by one person have aquitted all senseless cases where the state wrongfully accuse someone of treason beacuse of political affiliations. Death penalty is bigger than what your mind anticipates it to be.Hence the reason we have had a 1000 cases of treason and non convicted.STRICT GUN RESTRICTIONS, dude I just gave you an example a case in Gokwe, Zimbabwe where one killed innocent little kids with a Machete (bhemba) and there you are talking of guns strictness solving such issues.You think strict gun laws will stop mass killings in US? Then you dont know what you are talking about.MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISONS, hahaha dont make me laugh dude.You think you can lecture countries like US on how a prison should have maximum security? They have it all but someone with guts to kill 20 people will have guts to escape and even kill those who prosecuted him.Adam Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong escaped Carlifonia’s biggest max prison in 2016.Gore rauchaurairwa mhuri yose ndopauchaziva death penalty is an angelic law.

    • Thank you Anders Mård.

    • Emmanuel Edmos, my reason is the systematic injustices pervaded by the criminal justice system itself.If you think I am out ot reality then think twice and do your research.We cannot only impose laws on civilians when they have no consequences at the top of judiciary especially political elites.These are the worst killers.

      You keep harping on an example of of civilians killing each other, yet you forget that during Gukurahundi thousands were burried enmass and nobody has ever been brought to justice.Who has killed white citizens enmass?Why has no person been brought to justice?Because the lead in all these processes was political elites isn’t it?NO TO DEATH PENALTY.

      I can go further to talk about some of the points Anders Mård raised not only racial profiling here in USA, but also the fact that there is a private ownership of prisons.These are the evils of the criminal justice system itself pervaded by the politicians(Bill Clinton)

      The fact that you underestimate cases of treason shows that you are an emotional debater and not really an objective one.No matter what, that crime must never result in death penalty.It is a means of political supression and we all know.Think.

    • As for the USA, I don’t even need to lecture you sir, I can see for myself.Yes gun control laws have stopped mass killings in Australia and UK.You have no imperical evidence to suggest that they won’t stop killings.

    • Bianca Cook, that is the worst argument I have ever heard with no factual contention at all We have 58 countries in the world with capital punishment.There is no data at large to suggest the number of murders have deteriorated as a result of capital punishment.You keep harping on Zimbabwe , yet forgetting one of the major influences of low murders in Zimbabwe is who they are as people.

      If it was an African psyche as you have profiled it, then one would want to know why are dozens of dead bodies reaching hospitals in Kingston town JamaicaThere is capital punishment in Jamaica.Let alone USA, we all have seen what happens there.The criminal justice system which is even more corrupt than any African judicial system you may dream of.

    • Nometter the number of pages u write the fact remains. If yu say someone should not kill. No justification nor scruitnizasation will ever justify death sentence. That’s killing and we are saying we should not kill fulstop. Whether is done in court or parliament if yu kill yu are revenging and we are castigating it. The capital offence must be life in prisonment. Unoti pane vasingafaniri kurarama ndiwe ani? Vasingafaniri kurarama Havana kubvira vaberekwa idiot. Usada kungwara kukunda Mwari ok.

    • Simbarashe Mauta, I am a survivor of death myself.I was almost killed by a dangerous gang of thieves in my rural home in Zvishavane(17 December 2007).The weapons included a machete even though they used it just to scratch me.About 15 people, only because I was the lead activist in the society to condemn them.I was informing people not to buy their stolen merchandise as this actually promotes crime.

      Emmanuel Edmos, has wished my family to face the same fate as the Gokwe family as if I have no sympathy for victims of that catastrophic incident that took away their family.I am simply saying capital punishment is not the answer.

      I was in hospital as a survivor of murder, but can still stand against death penalty .Obviously citing a bigger picture than my personal emotions.

    • Tinashe dont be immature,you say i have wished your family death??Im txting simple english not Chinese ,i clearly said people who have lost their entire families to such people hearing what you saying would wish the same to happen to your beloved ones.I said you would have a different view if you had lost someone through such gruesome acts.Now where the heck did i wish death upon your family???Im not emotional but id say i have emotional intelligence. Im not going to tell you the number of people i have lost through such people lest you start singing the ’emotional’ song to me. Simbarashe Mauta,if that ‘idiot’ word was meant for me..hahaha if you know human-shit is what comes if you open your mouth just dont open it(thats common knowledge on hiding stupidity to the public).If your thick brainless head suggests a person can kill 1000 000 000 000 and be spared because you think that makes you holy hahaha then your idiocy is worse than i thought.

    • Emmanue, the reason I put my thoughts in paragraphs is to make it easier to comprehend especially on mobile phones.You might have what you call emotional intelligence in your capacity of course, but you are clueless on issues on institutionalisation and elitism which I have raised.

      The fact that you keep harping on civilian issues makes the case that either you are afraid of calling out the evils of politics on judiciary or you are simply that daft to understand.

      Clean the top of the judiciary first before you become a proponent of death penalty.I told you clearly that , I am a survivor of death myself, let alone anyone other than myself.

      Bring them to the communities to work in aged people’s fields houses and fields, schools, daily community service.In other words make them SLAVES of the people they impacted, but don’t kill them.It’s malignant, it’s evil.

      You have refused to answer questions relating to those who died by race in their farms in 2000.You have refused to comment on those who died in 1985 and were citizens.Capital punishment was always there, but because of influence of elitism and the powerful, no one was even charged.You want to come here and mention civilian issues, forgetting that there is a zero tone set on the pinnacle of the criminal justice system?That’s preposterous.

    • By the way, the debate between me and you has been civil.Keep it that way.We are allowed to differ in opinion and it’s a must ignore the disrespectiful.

    • Tinashe your so called ‘main points’ rubberstamps my arguement not yours. I never said death penalty must be put on civilians only i said whoever who deserves it.The atrocities you are mentioning prove there are people who can kill thousands of people…my arguement stands death penalty must be given to whoever who deserve it.

      You talk of those who died because of race and in the 80s yes whoever who played apart must face the music.And when the time comes they will. For you to say elitists aint facing justice is so abolish justice or death penalty is senseless.Im happy Osama was killed,im happy all those dictators are send to Hague to face justice…it doesnt mean the west is clean.But the fact thats no western leader is sent to Hague doesnt mean its wrong that some world leaders are facing justice.

      The fact that it is believed Princess Diana was killed by her own and no1 was arrested,doesnt mean those who kill their own and face justice is wrong.Thats what the system is worldwide.

      Ofcourse different beliefs and views are allowed.Thats why my 1st statement to you was ”I RESPECTFULLY disagree”.But ofcourse when one comes insulting me…

    • So uri kumutukira chii?i thought you guys were just discussing so zvekutukana zvapinda papi?

    • Abolishing death penalty and abolishing justice are two differing facts incontrovertibly.Yes whether you want to call it senseless, for as long as one person is immune to the law that affects others, that law must be retrospectively be invalid.Simple as that.There is no apology about that.Justice must be applied in an eqquitable, fair and judicous manner.If you don’t understand that you will never.

      As for Hague, just shut up about that.There should never have been an option for any state whatsover not to ratify that treaty.If that is the case, it must not be part of United Nations organs.This is a different conversation.

      You reasoning has finally become hypothetical as it can culminating a complete deviation from what I am talking about.If not pivoting.There is no need for equivalence here sir.The fact is death penalty has always been there, but it wouldn’t in circumstances.Life sentence at least keeps all of us alive.

    • So uri kumutukira chii?i thought you guys were just discussing so zvekutukana zvapinda papi

    • Angelin Mutepfa who are you referring to?

    • In your own words,”…as long as one person is immune to the law that affects others that law must be retrospectively be invalid.”

      Hahaha that sounds pretty funny,im sure it will sound the same to you if you read it aloud listening to yourself.

      A couple of months ago an individual killed someone and was arrested,a government official stormed the police station and ‘ordered’ the release of that official without trial or any justice.THATS WRONG,and it appear(s) the official is/was immune because of his links….now according to you when that happens anyone who kills must not be arrested because one person was immune.Hahaha now thats not senseless but SENSELESS.

    • I am referring to Simbarashe Mauta akutaura zvekuti idiot what what..

  • tht tells us tht ONLY GOD is the giver& taker of life

  • Mambokadzi Perfect Pat

    Never give up hope ….if you trust him God will see you through

  • Kkkkk The Power Of God

  • Chikiti

    Hawuzi huchenjeri, he has every reason to thank God.

  • Who is this man?

    • Gasela..the notorious criminal who killed for the sake of killing..The first-ever serial killer in Zimbabwe..Wonder why some people sympathize with this ass hole.

  • Lol 😂…

  • I still think sentencing someone to death is unGodly. If someone commits murder and as a judge or magistrate yu conspire with multiple to commit murder is a sin, yu are just like someone who is revenging. Give the power to kill only to God. Lets castigate the act of killing nometter the level of offense.

    • Nonsense!

    • By nonsense uri kureva zita rako rine repetition here or something? Vana vevamwe are answering with facts iwe woti nonsense, just that. Ndokuratidza kuti musoro wakazara madhodhi.

    • ….take your morning pills buddie. You should have said it the other way round that people instead of engaging in the acts of killing each other there must be a way of resolving issues.

    • #Advance it has the same meaning I put it clear that killing should never a decision by a human being. If yu can’t understand this then put it in yo language and grasp. If yu still don’t understand then take yoz too coz I have already chewed mine. Killing must be castrated fulstop. None should kill. Yu sentence ppl to death who are yu. Are God?????? Its a crazy capital punishment which must be undermined. Look torturing souls, death row since 1990 to date. Ppl are in que and nil such punishment is exercised since then. I can personally suggest those guys who were on que for the past 10 years has already served their term and should be let to go free. HoweverI will try to take my pills early every day. Thanks for the advise.

  • GOD is always faithful

  • Judge not says the LORD

  • By the way, it is not a blessing to be a healthy criminal. If I was you I would cover my face. Look at the quality of your life. Showing off for all the wrong reasons. Ugly in every way possible.

  • Mdala yu were born in a wrong society. Write a book. You will be a millionaire . Just commission someone and narrate your story – they will do the rest and you pay them a percentage.

  • Oo.please cut him some slack. ko kana ava changed man.Saul akauraya vatendi vangani.Jehova haana kusangana naye here atori murwendo kunouraya.atori nani he paid for his sins and did time.ipapa pane vakuita zviri worse kusabatwa hazvirevi unogona or u are holier.pple change..” let him who has no sin cast the first stone”. Aaa stop judging and give him a break.

    • Easier for you to utter such because hausiriwe wakaurairwa mwana, mai etc etc. Let it happen to you and let’s see if you would come back with such statement.

    • Hazvina kana basa izvo kuti handisini ndaksurairwa siyai akadaro.ndimi ana Mwari here.

    • MaSithole lawe futhi….asikhulumi ngo Paul lana. nguGasela lona owabulala umuntu eBF wagwetshwa. Kodwa ihlazo nanti ke uGasela useransa ke ukuthi bonke abantu bafile ababenokwenza ngecala lakhe. Yibuntu bani bokuransa lobu?!

  • Well he may narrate all of what he encoutered in jail was much interested on how he killed the tenant. The circumstances in detail on how he was implicated to the case leading to his incarceration. The family of the tenant might need simple explanations as to what happened? Okunengi lokho asilani lakho lokho

  • death sentence is a kill and you get killed. its a simple as that, you dont want to be killed then dont kill others..Thanks Zim for upholding that law, South Africa is a disaster..people are killed like chickens here knowing they will not be killed when they go to jail

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