Joseph Sallie Molefi

Posted by Jeeva Rajgopaul on

Biographical information


Banished person, journalist, organiser during the 1952 Defiance Campaign, 1956 Treason Trialist, Secretary of the ANCYL, Executive Committee Member of the PAC

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 

Joseph Sallie Poonyane Molefi ‘was born in 1930 at Winburg in the Orange Free State and attended St. Peter’s School in Johannesburg, matriculating in 1948.’ He pursed Medical studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in the early 1950s, but they were jettisoned for political activism and ‘to become a full-time political organiser at the time of the 1952 Defiance Campaign.’

His banishment order, dated 1 November 1956, banished him to ‘the ward of Chief Mgoqozi in Reserve No. 19’ in the Nkandla district of Northern Natal, from Evaton Township, Vereeniging District, Transvaal. He was described as a ringleader.   Apart from being Secretary of the Evaton People’s Transport Council, he was also the Secretary of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).It was alleged that the bus boycott, ‘actually started after he had convened various public meetings addressed by well-known Communists from Johannesburg.’He was arrested and charged for treason in 1956. He sat through the entire trial and was only acquitted in early 1961.

During the Treason Trial the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)  was formed, and Molefi was the only one among the final defendants who joined the PAC.  He joined the organisation after fleeing to Lesotho in late 1961 to avoid another trial, and became part of its executive committee in exile.’ Later he became a press correspondent, covering Lesotho for several South African newspapers.’

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

Last updated : 05-Aug-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 30-Aug-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.