Pandelani Jeremia Nefolovhodwe was born on 2 February 1947 in Folovhodwe village in the Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo). Nefolovhodwe then went to the University of the North (also known as Turfloop), where he continued with his political activism andbecame a member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) in 1971. When the university expelled SRC president Harry Ranwedzi Nengwekhulu and several other students propagating the Black Consciousness ideology, Nefolovhodwe and Abraham Onkgopotse Tiro emerged as leaders of the movement at the institution.

The expulsion of Nengwekhulusparked protests, leading to the deployment of the police around the institution to prevent banned students from entering the campus. Nefolovhodwe, together with Tiro, led these protests. When Tiro was also expelled Nefolovhodwe organised and led more protests which subsequently led to his own expulsion in 1972. After this, he worked as an Assistant Welfare Officer for the Musina Copper Mine in 1972 before working as an assistant teacher at Mphaphuli High School in 1973.

Nefolovhodwe was later readmitted to Tufloop and allowed to continue with his studies. In 1974 he was elected as president of the SRC, and he was also elected as national president of the South African Student Organisation(SASO). After SASO was banned on campus, he was elected as the chairperson of SASO’s Turfloop branch. Together with his comrades, he helped organise the ‘Viva FRELIMO Rally’ in Durban on 12 October 1974 which was aimed at celebrating the ascension to power of Mozambique’s liberation movement after the collapse of Portuguese colonial rule.

In October 1974 Nefolovhodwe and nine members of SASO were arrested for organising the rally and charged with terrorism. Among those arrested were Sathasivan ‘Saths’ Cooper, Strinivasa ‘Strini’ Moodley, Aubrey Mokoape, Mosiuoa Lekota, Nkwenkwe Nkomo, Zithulele Cindi, Muntu Myeza and Kaborane Sedibe. After a lengthy trial that became known as the SASO Nine trial, all were convicted on 21 December 1976 and sentenced to imprisonment. Nefolovhodwe was sentenced to six years in prison and together with others served his term on Robben Island. He was held in the A Section of Robben Island prison, with his BCM comrades.

After his release he went back to his political activism and joined a BCM-aligned trade union, the Black Allied Mining and Construction Workers Union (BAMCWU). He became the regional organiser for Limpopo in 1983 and was elected its Secretary General in 1984. In 1986 he became a founder member of the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) where he was elected the first Assistant Secretary General. In 1988 he became the Coordinator of Labour Studies at the UBUNTU Social development Institute, a position he held until 1994.

In December 1990 Nefolovhodwe was elected president of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO). In 1992 he was elected as the party’s deputy president, a post he held until March 2010.

In 1994, Nefolovhodwe became the Executive Director of People’s Agricultural Development, a post he held until 2001.  He also served as the chair for the Imbumba Group between 1998 and 2001.

In 2002, Nefolovhodwe went to Parliament to replace Mosibudi Mangena, who resigned his seat in the National Assembly after he was appointed Deputy Minister of Education. Nefolovhodwe served as AZAPO’s only Member of Parliament from 2001 to 2009. He served on various portfolio committees, including Trade and Industry, Science and Technology, Land and Agriculture, Foreign Affairs and an Ad Hoc Committee on Democracy and Political Governance of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Nefolovhodwe is currently the director of ISBAYA Development Trust, where he is responsible for cooperative development as part of a Village Renewal programme involving 56 villages in the former Transkei. Nefolovhodwe also serves a member of the Robben Island Museum council.


Mr PJ Nefolovhodwe,from the University of Limpopo, [online], Available at[Accessed 11 November 2011]|Ludman B, Stober P & Haffajee, F, (2004), Mail & Guardian A-Z of South African Politics, (Johannesburg), p.64.|Sisulu, E, (2002), Walter & Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime, (David Phillip), p.383

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