Village Profile

Each month on this feature we will try to go back in history into the undocumented archives and try to give a history of and the origins of a particular village, as it is important to know where we come from as Africans – our original ways of life, how our forefathers & ancestors used to live in harmony with nature .

In this issue we are profiling Lefiso, a village on the outskirts of Mpumalanga, South Africa (GPS coordinates 24.9306 S, 28.9028 E).

” I am an African “a phrase made famous by the second democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa; Mr. Thabo Mbeki. It was during his speech in 1996 in Cape Town after the passing of the South African Constitution, at the time he was both the Deputy President of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and that of the country.


16 JUNE 2020

It’s Origins & Descendants

During the 2011 Census conducted by Statistics SA, the village had a population of 3 614, with 877 households and out of that 53.6% of that being the working class. The approximate size of the village being 27.1 km2, of course these numbers have surely fluctuated by now.

Records suggest that Lefiso was founded in 1914 after farmers from Marapyane village under the Chieftaincy of Moepi bought the land, cows were used to buy the land from the white farmer who owned it. The Village Mag visited and sat down with Mr. Vincent Nshela “Sheliki” Phalane; a 94-year-old from Kgapamadi section, Lefiso and Mr. Thobeng Alpheus Dolo who is 82 years old; from Moeding Section also in Lefiso, they were both born and raised in Lefiso.

Where did the name come from?

Lefiso is a name from language Sepedi, it was derived from a dam which was constructed to resemble a pot/pan, back in the day’s farmers from neighboring villages such as Senotlelo, Rathoke etc. used to take their livestock’s to this particular dam for their cows, goats, sheep’s etc. to drink. The dam is popularly known as “Paneng” which directly means a pan.

Who were the first descendant (the first to arrive)?

Ga Mocha Royal Council of Marapyane which has legal jurisdiction (practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice within a defined field of responsibility) over Lefiso, had a traditional (rain) doctor called Letsoalo on a retainer – who at the time was residing in the then Pietersburg now renamed to Polokwane. The doctor made a request for a piece of land within Lefiso which would mean he was closer to Marapyane – the area would later be known as Letsoalo Section (evidently named after him), after Chief Moepi granted his request, he could not immediately relocate – this is when he sent his brother in law Mr. Kakabitjane Modiba who was the first to come build there.

Why is Lefiso under the jurisdiction of Marapyane?

The Royal family of Moepi were the first to arrive this side, they chased away and had their land confiscated by the Apartheid regime under the leadership of a man only known as Paulo. They used to stay around the foothills of the Magaliesburg mountainous just along the Apies River nearby the Bosman train station. Apparently along the borders of the mountain and the Ben Schoeman highway, there is a grave of Andries Maubane from the royal family. The same area is where the Royal Council would go to pray for rain during the dry season, it is still unclear whether this practice is still being fostered. Lefiso came about after the community of Marapyane bought the land from a white farmer then its descendants who were mostly farmers decided to relocate from Marapyane to Lefiso.

Where did the name “Sekgoana sa Kgoshi” or Chief’s Bush comes from?

The name came about as a result of Sekwati and Ntsetsedile Moepi who were both messengers and uncles from the Royal Council to collect taxes and levies from the community of Lefiso. The bush which is adjacent to the dam (Paneng) is where they used to collect the levies – there was a kraal which they used to also hold any meetings required. Now because they were representing the Chief, they then named the bush Sekgoana sa Kgoshi aka Chief’s Bush. Chief Isaac Moepi also followed in their footsteps, whenever he visited the village, he would arrive there as well.

The Chief had and still to date has lieutenants in each are of his jurisdiction, Lefiso is under the careful eye of the Mmutle family; as a result, when he – the Chief – visited did not want to go to his lieutenant’s house because that would mean he was a visitor, when in fact he is the rightful ruler of the land hence he used the kraal at his bush to summon people to “visit him”. Funny enough, Marapyane people were never subjected to pay any fines and levies like the residents of Lefiso.

What were Lefiso’s customs in those days?

Because the land at the time was used for farming and Lefiso was known for the “pot” of water, initially there was a tree called Monoto not far from Mr. Aphane’s house where community members would convene and pray to the gods for rain. Years later, during the dry season – under the leadership of Mr. Mametse –  livestock (cattle, dogs, donkeys etc.) from each household far and nearer which used the dam for water, would be taken to the dam. Elders would surround the dam preventing the livestock from escaping, then children will walk around all corners of the village spreading traditional herbs called Mphoko, when they came back heavy rains will fall and cover the soils of Lefiso. A trend of entrapping livestock was later scrapped but children continued spreading the herbs.

Oldest community building(s) in Lefiso

Lefiso Primary School was the first property to be built by the community of this village, construction (using mountainous stones) commenced in 1949 and completed in September 1953. The school’s first learning blocks were later demolished and modern state of the art classrooms with better infrastructure where constructed in 2012. Malatse High School was the second community property which was later followed by Ramabale Primary School.

Lefiso has more than three (3) cemeteries, why is that?

There are more than three types of tribes, majority being Batswana (Bakgatla), Bapedi (AmaN’rebele a Moletlane) and Tsonga. This is what informed the different cemeteries and locations within the village, initially Bakgatla used to bury their loved ones at Lefiswane cemetery, Bapedi used the cemetery in Pitsi section, Lefiso and Tsonga’s uses the cemetery in Lenyeketsane Section, the cemetery is infamously known as Giyani – symbolizing the biggest city in the Vhembe District in Limpopo which has more than 95% of Tsonga speaking people.

In Conclusion



village which is estimated to be 106 years old still has so much to offer in terms of amenities and of course the way of life. Elders such Mr. Phalane and Mr. Dolo are definitely important, it is our wish as The Village Mag that the young up and coming generation cherish and spend time with these important community leaders. Our communities were built on so many foundations and in most cases due to our country’s horrible past, most of our history is undocumented as such we have to rely on our elders for information. It is very important that we learn where we come from so that we understand where we come from.