Firoz Cachalia

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Photograph by Boxer Ngwenya

Biographical information

Synopsis:

 

Author, political activist, political detainee, banned person, secretary of the Benoni Student Movement, President of the Black Students’ Society at Witwatersrand University, secretary of the Actonville Rents Action Committee, Vice

First name: 
Firoz
Last name: 
Cachalia
Date of birth: 
22 July 1958
Location of birth: 
Benoni, Transvaal, South Africa

Lives of Courage

Ban information: 
Act No. 44 of 19500<br><em>Issued Period(s)</em> [Sec. 9 (1) to 30/6/1986]
Miscellaneous: 
Benoni

Professor Firoz Cachalia holds a BA degree, a BA (Hons) degree, an LLB and a Higher Diploma in Company Law from Witwatersrand University. Cachalia is currently a Professor at the University of Witwatersrand School of Law. A talented individual, Cachalia also received a first class pass for his LLM qualification from the University of Michigan in 1996.

In 1978, he was arrestedwith his brother Azhar Cachalia (both were university students at the time) for distributing pamphlets commemorating the 1976 Soweto students uprising. The Security Police severely assaulted and tortured both the brothers when they were arrested them.

Again with his brother Azhar in 1981 Firoz was arrested for political activities. They were detained for just over three weeks and then they were banned under the Internal Security Act. The brothers were prohibited from participating in any organisations, could not be in the presence of more than two people at any one time and could not communicate with any other person who was banned. As banned persons, his brother and Firoz had to obtain special permission from the State to communicate with each other, although they lived in the same house. 

Prior to 1994, Cachalia made an immense contribution in challenging and opposing Apartheid, to the transition to democracy and subsequently to the consolidation of democratic institutions. He has held various leadership positions in organisations that fought Apartheid and oppression and played a leading role in Codesa I and Codesa II (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) negotiations. He also worked with the committee that drafted the first versions of South Africa’s democratic Constitutional Principles. During the Codesa negotiations, Cachalia represented the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) at the talks.

Cachalia has held several key posts in the public and private sector.; as the Head of the Planning Commission in the Gauteng Provincial Government, and prior to that as the Provincial member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Economic Development. Between 2004 and 2009, he served as the MEC for Community Safety and as a leader of government business. Cachalia has held several positions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature between 1994 and 2004 – he has served as the Leader of the House, its Speaker and has chaired the Rules Committee and the Petitions Committee.

He also worked for a law firm,  Bell Dewar and Hall for two years and as a researcher in the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in the early 1990s. He is widely published in the legal field.

Cachalia has also as a Council Member of Witwatersrand University from 2004 to 2006. He continues to serve on the Mahatma Gandhi Trust and the Ahmed Kathrada Trust.

He has also held leadership positions in the United Democratic Front (UDF), African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The Gauteng branch of the Security Association of South Africa (SASA) declared Firoz Cachalia the "Security Personality of 2007". SASA Gauteng president Jack Edery praised Cachalia for a thorough and multifaceted approach to combat crime on all fronts and different levels.

President Jacob Zuma appointed Professor Firoz Cachalia as a nonexecutive director to the Board of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) in July 2012 for a period of three years.


References:
• University of the Witwatersrand. (2012). Biography: Firoz Cachalia from University of Witwatersrand online, 1 June. Available at  www.wits.ac.za . Accessed on 10 April 2013
• 
Moneyweb. (2012). Firoz Cachalia appointed Sarb nonexec director from Money web online, 16 July. Available at   www.moneyweb.co.za . Accessed on 10 April 2013
•  News 24. (2007). Security body honours Cachalia from News 24 archives online. Available at www.news24.com . Accessed on 10 April 2013
•  Whoswho Southern Africa. Firoz Cachalia from Who’swho southern Africa online. Available at   www.whoswho.co.za . Accessed on 10 April 2013

Last updated : 24-May-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 19-Mar-2012