Charles Nqakula


  • Date of Birth: 13 September 1942
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Pastimes: Composes choral music and writes poetry

current position

  • Minister of Safety and Security (7 May 2002 to date)
  • National Chairperson of South African Communist Party (SACP)

Academic Qualifications

  • Attended primary school in Cradock
  • Matriculated at Lovedale (1959 – 1963)

Career/Positions/Memberships/Other Activities

  • Worked as waiter and wine steward in a hotel and later as clerk in Department of Bantu Education
  • Began working as a journalist for Midland News, a regional weekly newspaper in Cradock (1966)
  • Served as political reporter for Imvo Zabantsundu, based in King William’s Town (1973)
  • Worked for the Daily Dispatch in East London and remanded until when he was placed under a banning order in 1981(1976 – 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 declared a prohibited immigrant unable to enter South African territory
  • Became a member of the Union of Black Journalist and was elected its Vice-President in 1976. The Union was banned in October 1977 in a government crackdown on organisations supporting the Black Consciousness Movement
  • 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
  • Frequently detained either by the South African or Ciskeian authorities
  • Started Veritas news agency in Zwelitsha towards the end of 1982
  • During August-September 1983, he was elected publicity secretary of the United Democratic Front (UDF)
  • Arrested in East London for being in SA without a visa in 1983, by this time Nqakula was an underground operative for the ANC, specialising in propaganda
  • Left SA, 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 back into SA as one of the commanders of Operation Vula, with a mission to build viable underground and military structures and served as commander in the Western Cape (1988)
  • He emerged from the underground when he was granted amnesty by the government (1991)
  • Served on the interim leadership group of the SACP, as convernor of its national organising committee as member of its political committee and also served on the party’s secretariat
  • Was elected Deputy General Secretary of the SACP (1991) and subsequently the party’s General Secretary after the assassination of Chris Hani
  • Re-elected to this position at the SACP national congress in (April 1995)
  • Elected to the NEC of the ANC (1994)
  • Parliamentary Counsellor to the President (until 26 January 2001)
  • Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (24 January 2001 – 6 May 2002)