Ntombephi was born in June 1966 in Bizana in the Eastern Cape. She is Mpondo Xhosa. She learned to bead from her grandmother who wore beaded garments when she was a child. Ntombephi’s sense of beading and of the significance of color and pattern is grounded in the traditional Mpondo framework. In her early 30s Ntombephi followed her husband Malume to KwaZulu-Natal where he had migrated to work as a cane cutter on a sugar plantation. In order to supplement their income she began to make beadwork items to sell in Durban.
Ntombephi is a master beader, and she has taught many other women to bead. Her skill as a beader was the initial impetus which led her to co-found Ubuhle with Bev Gibson in 1999. Ntombephi is known as “Induna” which means “leader,” a term of great respect in South Africa. The title also indicates the responsibility she feels for the community, viewing herself as the guardian of its future. Ntombephi hopes to establish the Ubuhle guild so that children, including the orphans of her sisters Bongiswa and Thembani and other orphans cared for by the community, will one day learn to bead.