Biographies

Sydney Mufamadi was born on 28 February 1959 in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. Mufamadi is the eldest of the four children of Masindi and Reuben, who are now both pensioners. He grew up in Meadowlands (Gauteng) and in Tshisahulu (Venda).
In Venda young Sidney first looked after his grandfather’s cattle and then attended school. His father worked in Johannesburg sydney mufamadias did his mother who sold home-brewed alcohol to supplement the family income. Mufamadi’s mother was arrested for illegally selling alcohol and he saw the unjust system first-hand at an early age. In 1973 Mufamadi passed Std. 6 with distinction, and in 1977 completed Std. 8 at Kwevha High School in Shayandima, Venda.
In 1976 with the spread of Soweto Uprising, into other areas of the coun-try, Mufamadi became a member of Zoutpansberg Students Organisation, which led the boycotts in Venda during October 1977. Many student lead-ers were arrested, and others, including Mufamadi, went underground. When the schools re-opened he was refused readmission and was briefly prevented by the apartheid state from completing his schooling. He moved 25 to Johannesburg and enrolled at an international Correspondence Col-lege.
In 1977 he joined the African National Congress (ANC), in the next year he was a founder member of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), and in 1981 he joined the South African Communist Party (SACP). His in-volvement in AZAPO led to a two-month detention without trial at John Vorster Square, Johannesburg, under section 6 of the Terrorism Act.
Following the successful Transvaal regional stayaway in November 1984, Mufamadi was subpoenaed to appear as a state witness at the trial of some of its organisers. However, when some of the accused fled the coun-try, charges were withdrawn and he was not called to testify. In 1985 when the state of emergency was declared, Mufamadi operated underground to avoid detention, resurfacing to help organise and attend the December
1985 launch of the Congress of South African Trade 26 Unions (COSATU) in Durban. He was elected Assistant General Secretary at its inaugural rally. He operated underground from June 1986 to October 1986, but openly resumed his work despite the continuing state of emergency. He was again detained on 8 June 1987 for political activities.