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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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Carolus, Cheryl

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Cheryl Carolus was born on 20 April 1959 in Silvertown on the Cape Flats to a working class family. After matriculating Carolus registered for a BA degree and teacher's diploma at the University of the Western Cape. She was still active in politics, especially the Black Consciousness group, the South African Students' Organisation (SASO). She was detained for five months in 1976.

Carolus became a History and English teacher in Cape Flats schools and was involved in the 1981 school boycotts, taking part in grassroots organisations. In 1981 she registered at the University of the Western Cape for a BA Law degree and served on the Students' Representatives Council and also worked for the Churches Urban Planning Commission in 1982 and 1983.

Her political career grew and in 1983 Carolus was instrumental in the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Western Cape., serving as general secretary after its launch in August of that year. She was a member of the organisation's national executive between 1983 and 1987. She was also a founding member of the United Women's Organisation, which became the United Women's Congress, in the Western Cape and served as the general secretary for the Federation of South African Woman (FEDSAW) from 1987.

In 1986 she travelled to Sweden as part of the UDF delegation invited by the International Centre of the Swedish Labour Movement and while they were there they met with members of the ANC Executive.

On her return to South Africa in January 1986 Carolus was arrested and detained at John Vorster Square in Johannesburg for 3 weeks under emergency regulations. She was released but still remained under restriction to the Cape magisterial area of Wynberg and was not allowed to take part in any UDF activities. Further restrictions included not being allowed to associate herself with any publications, entering educational institutions or attending meetings where government policies were discussed or criticised.

In 1989 Carolus became the Western Cape spokesperson during the Defiance Campaign organised by the Mass Democratic Movement and was also a member of the joint delegation of the UDF, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the National Education Crisis Committee that attended the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) meeting in Harare.

She was part of the ANC team that met with the government at Groote Schuur in May 1990 which produced the historic Groote Schuur Minute. When the South African Communist Party (SACP) launched itself as a legal entity on 29 July 1990 a legal entity Carolus was elected as a member of its interim leadership group. She remained in this position until December 1991.

In July 1991 Carolus was elected to national executive committee of the ANC, while also serving on the organisation's national working committee, a full-time position based in Johannesburg. She held the health portfolio position, leaving her prior job as Staff Development Officer at the Education Resource and Information Project at the University of the Western Cape. In 1995 she played an important part in the ANC's local elections and on 2 March 1998 assumed the post as South Africa's High Commissioner in London. On 1 November 2001 she returned to South Africa to take up the position as Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism.

Sources: 1. Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Cape Town: Human & Rousseau. 2. Joyce, P. (1999). A Concise Dictionary of South African Biography, Cape Town: Francolin. 3. Gastrow, S. (1987). Who's Who in South African Politics, Number 4, Johannesburg: Ravan. 4. http://www.southafrica.net/index.cfm?SitePageID=577

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.