Stephen Tefu was born about 1910, he was recruited to the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in Pretoria at a time when the party was at a low ebb. Shortly after joining, he became a member of the central committee in Johannesburg. In 1933 he was jailed for seven weeks after being arrested in connection with a procession by unemployed Africans. He was at that time an organizer for the Federation of Non-European Trade Unions; later he became chairman of the African General Workers' Union in Pretoria. Banned in the 1950s, he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in 1961 on a charge under the Suppression of Communism Act.