Venda (/ˈvɛndə/) was a Bantustan in northern South Africa, which is fairly close to the South African border with Zimbabwe to the north, while to the south and east, it shared a long border with another black homeland, Gazankulu. It is now part of the Limpopo province. Venda was founded as a homeland by the South African government for the Venda people, speakers of the Venda language.[4] The United Nations and international community refused to recognise Venda (or any other Bantustan) as an independent state.

Republic of Venda
Riphabuliki ya Venḓa (Venda)
Republiek van Venda (Afrikaans)
Coat of arms
Motto: "Shumela Venda"  (Venda)
"Always Aspire for Venda"
Anthem: Pfano na vhuthihi  (Venda)a
Peace and Togetherness
Location of Venda (red) within South Africa (yellow).
(nominal parliamentary democracy)
Official languagesVenda[1]
Patrick Mphephu
Frank Ravele
Head of State 
Gabriel Ramushwana
 Jan–Apr 1994
Tshamano Ramabulana
LegislatureLegislative Assembly
1 February 1973
 Nominal independence
13 September 1979
 Coup d'etat
5 April 1990
27 April 1994
1980[2]7,410 km2 (2,860 sq mi)
CurrencySouth African rand
Preceded by
Succeeded by
South Africa
South Africa
  1. Anthem of Venda at


Venda was declared self-governing on 1 February 1973,[5] with elections held later in the year.[6] Further elections were held in July 1978.[6] The territory was declared independent by the South African government on 13 September 1979 and its residents lost their South African citizenship.[7][8] In common with the other Bantustans, its independence was not recognised by the international community.

Venda was initially a series of non-contiguous territories in the Transvaal, with one main part and one main exclave. Its capital, formerly at Sibasa, was moved to Thohoyandou (which included the old Sibasa administrative district) when Venda was declared independent in 1979. Prior to independence it was expanded to form one contiguous territory, with a total land area of 6,807 km² (2628 sq. mi.).[4] In the 1984 elections the ruling Venda National Party retained its position as ruling party, beating the perpetual opposition Venda Independent People's Party (VIPP).[6]

At independence in 1979, the population of Venda stood at about 200,000 people. The state was cut off from neighbouring Zimbabwe by the Madimbo corridor, patrolled by South African troops, to the North, and from nearby Mozambique by the Kruger National Park.[4]

The first President of Venda, Patrick Mphephu, was also a Paramount Chief of the Vhavenda people; he was born and lived in Dzanani in Limpopo. His successor, Frank Ravele, was overthrown in a military coup by the Venda Defence Force in 1990, after which the territory was ruled by the Council of National Unity. Venda was re-incorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994.[5]

Institutions of education

In 1982, the University of Venda known as Univen was established as an institution of higher learning for the Vhavenda people.[9]

Districts in 1991

Districts of the province and population at the 1991 census.[3]

  • Dzanani: 123,035
  • Mutale: 244,532
  • Thohoyandou: 136,089
  • Vuwani: 55,141

Security forces

Flag of the Venda Defence Force

The Venda National Force was established with Venda’s independence in 1979 and included defence and other services such as police and prisons. Strange enough, traffic policing was part of this national force, but by 1981 it was transferred to the Department of Justice. The Fire Brigade was however still part of the Venda National Force although there were plans to transfer this to the civilian government.

See also


  1. Chapter 2, Section 6, Republic of Venda Constitutuion Act 1979 "Luvenda, English and Afrikaans shall be the official languages of the Republic of Venda"
  2. Sally Frankental; Owen Sichone (1 January 2005). South Africa's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. ABC-CLIO. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-57607-674-3. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  3. "Census > 1991 > Venda > Variable Description > ... > District code". Statistics South Africa – Nesstar WebView. Archived from the original on 19 June 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  4. Lahiff, p. 55.
  5. has a chronology of Venda's transition to nominal independence and reintegration into South Africa.
  6. Elections in South Africa's Apartheid-Era Homelands "Bantustans" African Elections Database
  7. The Birth of a New Non-State (subscription required), in Time Magazine, 24 September 1979
  8. "S. Africa Launches 'Independent Black State' of Venda," in The Washington Post, 13 September 1979.
  9. University of Venda website Archived 4 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 28 June 2007.


  • Lahiff, E. (2000) An Apartheid Oasis?: Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods in Venda, Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5137-0.

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