Stephen Zelwane Nkadimeng was one of the founders and key leaders of Fetakgomo (an organisation of migrant workers and peasantsof Sekhukhuneland).  On the last day of a two and-a-half year jail sentence for holding an illegal meeting, the prison superintendent summoned Nkadimengto his office and asked him to provide the names of those involved in the uprising. After he refused, the Assistant Magistrate took out the banishment order, dated 18 January 1960, and read it to him. The order indicated that he was a regular attendee of the secret meetings of the African National Congress (ANC) in Sekhukhuneland [Northern Transvaal, now Limpopo Province].  It was feared that the peace that resulted following his arrest would be reversed if he were permitted to return to Sekhukhuneland. He was banished to Reserve No. 16 Gwaluweni, Gollel, Ingwavuma District, in the Pongola Valley area of Ingwavuma, 1,600 kilometres away in Northern Zululand [KwaZulu-Natal].

He was not allowed to return home.  Instead, he was given £2 [R4] and a rail warrant and sent on his way. It took three days to travel to Ingwavuma, where he was transported by the Native Commissioner (NC) to a hut in Gwaluweni with provisions of blankets, a lamp, pot, mug, knife and fork.

He refused a job loading state trucks, taught himself Zulu and established good relations with the local Chief. He received rations and 10 shillings [R1] in cash and £1 [R2] for his partner and child, who joined in June 1961. His partner, who had never left Sekhukhuneland before, travelled by train to Gollel and then walked for four hours with her luggage and the child on her back, assisted on the way by another woman who knew Nkadimeng’s dwelling.

When Helen Joseph and Joe Morolong visited him during his banishment, his hut only contained a chair.  This was ”indeed the only piece of furniture in the hut, for there was no table, and not even a bed or mattress.” The issue that concerned Nkadimeng the most was: “Is the government getting stronger, or the people?” Despite the harsh conditions of banishment, his spirit was still strong and his last words to his visitors were, “Nkadimeng is not worried. The struggle of my people goes on and I am satisfied.”

Nkadimeng was permitted to return to Sekhukhuneland for 12 months.  The police reported that he was assuring people that the liberation of blacks was not far away, that he praised the “terrorists” and said that soon (together with communists) they would enter South Africa and take over. He had not overstepped the rules of the permit but it was undesirable for him to remain in Sekhukhuneland. He was banished to Driefontein Native Trust Farm, Vryburg District, [Northern Cape, now North West Province].

His order was withdrawn on 27 October 1971.


• Contribution by Professor S. Badat, Rhodes University, 2012. From the book, Forgotten People - Political Banishment under Apartheid by Professor S. Badat

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