Sifiso Nkabinde was born in 1960 in Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal. His father was a policeman and a local chairman of Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Nkabinde attend the local primary school and secondary school, where he matriculated in 1977. Between 1978 and 1981 he trained as a teacher at Ndaleni Teachers Training College, and it was alleged that he failed his first year, but this may have been ignored due to his political connections.
During the 1980s Nkabinde started making inroads in the political arena. He served his apprenticeship under Mzwandile Mbonga, a prominent youth leader in Richmond. He later became the chairman of DCO Mathewane youth organisation, and a member of the ANC's Self Defence Unit (SDU) in Richmond. Nkabinde allegedly spent time in Zimbabwe doing some work tasked by the African National Congress (ANC), but the organisation denies knowledge of this. After the unbanning of the ANC, Nkabinde was elected Chairman of the organisation's Richmond branch. This was followed by his election as the Secretary General of the ANC in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands region, and becoming Harry Gwala's lieutenant, who was the Chairman at a time.
In 1994, after South Africa's first democratic election, Nkabinde was elected as one of the ANC's provincial legislators. In an astonishing move during one of the legislature's debates he openly admitted to being a warlord, but asserted that, he ”…was never the one who caused violence and would not apoligise if I have defended people against their enemy… I will never sacrifice my people” . Following a string of murder charges against him in 1997, Nkabinde was finally arrested. He was later acquitted on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to link him directly to the 18 murders alleged committed by members of his defence unit. The acquittal came as a shock to those who allegedly witnessed his part in the killings in April 1994.
In 1997 Nkabinde was expelled from the ANC on suspicion of having been a spy for the former apartheid government. He denied the allegation stating that, as an ANC populist, he was becoming a threat in the Midlands branch of the party. He also felt that his alleged refusal to desist contesting the Chairmanship of the party was the cause for his expulsion. He was soon approached by the newly formed United Democratic Movement (UDM) to join its ranks, where he became the National Secretary General and Chairman of the movement in KwaZulu-Natal.
Nkabinde was shot and killed by unknown assassins on 23 January1999 after leaving one of his shops in Richmond. He is survivedby his wife and three children.