Velaphi was born in Johannesburg in 1959. An enthusiastic entrepreneur from a young age, when he was 9 years old Velaphi designed toy cars from scrap wire and other materials and sold these to friends.
He studied at the Mpofolo Art Centre in Soweto and also under Bill Ainslie and Dan Rakgoathe at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. He also taught at the Thusong Youth Centre in Alex and at the Open School in Johannesburg.
One of his paintings entitled ‘Sabuwona – a Zulu Greeting’ was chosen by former President Nelson Mandela as a gift to the Rockefeller foundation during a visit to the United States in July 1993.
Velaphi is best known for his large colourful painting and his bronzes. He paints vast portraits, closely cropped around the faces of his subjects, with colourfuldetails, portraying men and women wearing traditional clothing. Mzimba has experienced with a variety of formats and media over his career – with flat colour planes, use of thick outline and quotidian subject matter.