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Frans Rasimphi Tshivhase (1900 - 1952)

The Order of Luthuli in

Frans Rasimphi Tshivhase (1900 - 1952) Awarded for:
His lifetime contribution to the struggle for a free, just and democratic South Africa.

Profile of Frans Rasimphi Tshivhase

Chief Frans Rasimphi Tshivhase was born in 1900 in Mukumbani, in the former Transvaal, and took over the reigns as the Paramount Chief of the Tshivhase people in April 1930 after the death of his father two months earlier.

At a time when the Land Act, which sought to dispossess Black South Africans of their land, was being implemented across the country, Chief Tshivhase was resolute in his opposition to the expropriation of the land of his subjects and strident in his defence of the rights of his people.

Throughout his life, Chief Tshivase refused to have his people impoverished and he waged a monumental struggle in defence of the inheritance of his people.

Realising that the serious and difficult challenges faced by his mostly rural constituents required a political response, he was among the first traditional leaders of the period to forge strong organisational links with more urban political organisations such as the South African Communist Party of which he was a member. Through shrewd political and organisational strategy, he was able to frustrate the colonial designs of the South African Government to dispossess his people of their land for more than 15 years.

In November 1946, having identified him as an obstacle to their expropriation plans, the South African Government stripped him of his powers and officially removed him from his crown. However, even this could not stop Chief Tshivhase from organising his people to resist, and a year later, the Government banished this revolutionary and progressive Chief to Moeletswane, a distant area between Pretoria and Rustenburg. At Moeletswane, Chief Tshivhase continued to defy the authorities by mobilising the local inhabitants against the Government. He was forcibly removed yet again in 1952, this time to even more distant Ermelo, in the eastern part of the former Transvaal where he was reputedly slow-poisoned.

He died at Mills Hospital in Johannesburg. Chief Tshivhase died while fighting against the oppression of his people in South Africa.

Although half a century has passed since Chief Tshivase's demise, his people still recall him fondly by his nickname of Phiriphiri British Empire, received because of his implacable opposition to colonialism and his heroic defence of their rights.