Velaphi Lionel Ratshefola was born in Soweto. He grew up in Soweto and in the North West area of Lichtenburg and Mafikeng.
Velaphi was brought up by his mother and thus spent an extensive period with his maternal relatives.
His mother Mankeng Rebecca Ratshefola was a child to Benjamin Rakomana Ratshefola and Ester Ratshefola. Benjamin Rakomana Ratshefola had two farms – Putfontein(Botshabelo) in Lictenburg and a farm in the Koster area.
Velaphi stayed a few years in Putfontein(Botshabelo) with his mother and siblings. His mother farmed with pigs and chickens. She also planted vegetables extensively to feed the family. Whilst they did not have cattle at home, Velaphi spend an extensive period of time with his cousins to help look after his uncle’s cattle. The buck for farming caught up with Velaphi from there on.
In 1975 to 1977 Velaphi went back to Soweto to live with his eldest brother in order to go to school. He was caught up in Soweto riots and also had a difficult relationship with his brother.
His mother passed away in 1976.
In 1978 Velaphi went back to Putfontein(Botshabelo) to be with his uncles so that he could continue with schooling.
When he arrived in Putfontein(Botshabelo), the village was in the middle of forced removals. Together with uncles, aunts and cousins they were forcefully moved to Mafikeng in an area called Ramatlabama. There he continued with his schooling until finishing his Matric in 1980.
Once more, he continued to help look after his uncle’s cattle like all his cousins. Some of those cousins were Mothibedi, Aurafi, Atti and many others. The other cousin that used to visit from Pretoria-Atteridgeville was Polo Mokgethi.
Once again, the desire to be a farmer was established during those early years for Velaphi.
Velaphi, went on to study law at the University of Bophuthatswana (UNIBO), where he completed B Juris and LL.B.
Velaphi started looking for an opportunity to acquire a farm in the early to mid 2000 years. He searched across North West and Free State Provinces for opportunities. Good farms at an affordable price were not easy to come across. When the price was good, there was not enough water.
Around 2006 and 2008 he got to hear of governments support through land recapitalization. This program identified competent and capable black people who wanted to pursue farming. Velaphi applied and towards the end of 2010 was allocated a farm in the Vredefort area.
Velaphi met the love of his life, Rose Pinkie Menge Mosiane at UNIBO. She studied and completed a Honours degree in Social Work. She proceeded to work as a Social Worker for Family Life Centre until such time that they took the decision that she should look after the children full time to give them an opportunity to grow with appropriate family values.
Velaphi and Rose have been blessed with three children. The eldest is a daughter called Mmamorwa Gaboitsewe. Second born is a son named after Velaphi himself and he is known as Junior. The last born is a girl called Reboane.
All the children are to a large extent involved in the farming operation of the family.
While Rose was born and bred in Soweto, fortunately her mother, Sina Mosiane grew up in a farm village in Lichtenburg called Matile where her father was the Local Chief. She does have extensive experience in farming as she was one of ten daughters that looked after the family cattle and ploughed the maize fields.
She often gives Velaphi a hard time about not doing things properly at the farm.
One of the challenges that faces South Africa is to develop an inclusive economy which is shared by all people of South Africa. We cannot continue blaming each other as South Africans about who has done what to whom. We have to move forward as a collective. Failure to have an inclusive economy is a time bomb which threatens the future stability of the country.
Around 2006 and 2008 he got to hear of governments support through land recapitalization. This program identified competent and capable black people who wanted to pursue farming. Velaphi applied and toward the end of 2010 was allocated a farm in the Vredefort area.
It is against this imperative that the government has established the land recapitalization program. Through this program, the government buys land from white framers and allocate such land to black potential farmers.
Upon allocation of the land the new black farmer is allocated an experienced white farmer as a mentor and advisor. If a right mentor and a right black farmer are chosen, this is a good program that could move the transformation of agriculture forward.
The last leg of the program is to give the black farmer “start capital” to help him/her to acquire equipments and have some cash flow to operate the farm up to a period of five years.
Velaphi, was allocated a farm in Vredefort by Government through this program in late 2010 and early 2011. He already had around 20 cattle which he had kept in Zeerust with his relatives. The government helped him buy between 30 to 40 stud cattle. He also bought further equipments that he needed to have the farm operational.