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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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Nqakula, Charles

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Nqakula was born on 13th September 1942. He attended primary school in Cradock and matriculated at Lovedale (1959-1963). His pastimes are composing choral music and writing poetry.

Nkakula worked as waiter and wine steward in a hotel and later as clerk in the Department of Bantu Education. He began working as a journalist for Midland News, a regional weekly newspaper in Cradock in 1966. He served as political reporter for Imvo Zabantsundu, based in King William's Town, in 1973. He also worked for the Daily Dispatch in East London from 1976 - 1981 until he was placed under a banning order in 1981. The authorities revoked the banning order in 1982 because the village he lived in fell into Ciskei, which became independent in 1981. Nqakula was then declared a prohibited immigrant and was unable to enter South African territory.

He became a member of the Union of Black Journalists and was elected Vice-President of the Union in 1976. The Union was banned in October 1977 as part of a government crackdown on organisations supporting the Black Consciousness Movement.

He was elected Vice-President of the Writers' Association of South Africa (Wasa) (1979). He was subsequently elected Vice-President of the Media Worker's Association of South Africa (MWASA) when WASA was broadened to include others in the media industry. He was frequently detained either by the South African or Ciskeian authorities. He started Veritas News Agency in Zwelitsha towards the end of 1982.

He was elected publicity secretary of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983 and was arrested in East London for being in South Africa without a visa in 1983. By this time Nqakula was an underground operative for the ANC, specialising in propaganda. He left South Africa, travelled to Lesotho, Tanzania and Zambia in October 1984. He underwent military training in Angola and joined MK. He then travelled to the Soviet Union and East Germany for further military training.  He infiltrated South Africa as one of the commanders of Operation Vula, with a mission to build viable underground and military structures. He served as commander in the Western Cape in 1988.  He emerged from the underground when he was granted amnesty by the government in 1991.

He served on the interim leadership group of the SACP, as convenor of its National Organising Committee and was also a member of its political committee and served on the SACP's Secretariat. He was elected Deputy General Secretary of the SACP (1991) and subsequently as the party's General Secretary following the assassination of Chris Hani. He was re-elected to this position at the SACP National Congress in April 1995.

He was elected to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC (1994) and was Parliamentary Counsellor to the President until 26 January 2001.

He was Deputy Minister of Home Affairs of the Republic of South Africa from 24 January 2001 to 6 May 2002.

In May 2002 he was appointed as  Minister of Safety and Security of the Republic of South Africa and he is also the National Chairperson of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Source: Ministry of Safety and Security

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.