After four terms spanning sixteen years, Cathy Donaldson closed her chapter as Blind SA president in October last year. Cathy gave her soul to working for the benefit of her fellow blind and visually impaired citizens, recognised by Blind SA’s General Assembly when awarding her the title of Honorary Lifetime President.
For 25 years, she served as secretary of a branch of the SA Blind Workers Organisation (now Egoli Blind and a member organisation of Blind SA) before becoming general secretary of the national body in 1981, a position she held until taking up the presidency for her first term in 2004.
Cathy chaired Blind SA’s education committee from 2005, advocating for the improvement of education for blind children and adults, and opening doors to employment. As the South African representative, she served on the executive committee at the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment. She was also a regular attendee at meetings of the World Blind Union and, in 2012, was elected to promote the rights of blind women for the African Union of the Blind.
Her real career milestones at Blind SA include the extension of the admin building to cope with a growing demand for the organisation’s services, a massive fundraising drive to fund the installation of two new braille print machines, the appointment of Blind SA’s first Orientation & Mobility instructor and its first braille instructor.
All at Blind SA join together in saying a massive thank you to Cathy Donaldson – and wish her a very fulfilling retirement.
Incoming President Ntshavheni Netshituni is no stranger to the workings and purpose of Blind SA. He was previously employed by the organisation as a proofreader in the Braille Services division, was a member of the Executive Committee from 2008 to 2012 and, since 2012, has served as Blind SA’s Vice President.
After matriculating, Ntshavheni went on to attain a LLB Degree through the University of South Africa. He has further qualifications in labour relations, labour law, and project management.
As a committed advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Ntshavheni has chaired numerous committees, and remains very active – with a particular emphasis on the rights of children and students.
Braille, and access to it, has been a major focus for Ntshavheni – both locally and abroad. He serves as President of the South African Braille Authority, and achieved the setting up of a Braille Museum in 2019. In 2014, he became member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB), and has chaired its By-Laws Committee since 2016. Also in 2016, he represented South Africa at the ICEB’s 6th General Assembly in Baltimore, USA, and attended that organisation’s mid-term meeting in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018.
In accepting his election as Blind SA’s new President, Ntshavheni noted: “It is my great pleasure to accept the huge responsibility to lead Blind SA – the second largest organisation in South Africa’s blindness sector.” We welcome Ntshavheni to the Presidency and wish him a productive and rewarding term in office.
CHRISTO DE KLERK
Christo ran a private practice as an advocate at the Cape Town Bar from 1973 to 1979, and then was among the first blind South Africans to train as a computer programmer. In the mid-80s, Christo computerised braille production at the Pioneer School, developing a translation table for Afrikaans braille. He retired from ABSA in 2012.
Some voluntary positions held:
• Founding member and the first chairman of the Peninsula branch of the SA Blind Workers Organisation (now Blind SA) and also at various stages served as chairman of the Western Cape, Witwatersrand and Egoli Blind branches.
• Terms as vice president of Blind SA and on its executive committees.
• Served on the national executive of SA National Council for the Blind.
• Currently an exco member of the South African Braille Authority which is the standard setting body for braille in South Africa.
• Immediate past President of the International Council on English Braille, and also serves on a range of its committees.
• Committee which developed the new Unified English Braille Code.
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Derick had a very successful career in physiotherapy, starting his own private practice in 1979 and remaining active in his profession until 2013. Throughout this time, Derick was also passionately involved in devoting time to blindness issues, and continues his voluntary involvement to this day.
Some voluntary positions held:
• Executive Committee, South African Blind Workers Organisation (now Blind SA): 1996-2020 as Treasurer of the national organisation
• SABWO Trust: 1997-2020, Initiator and Chairman from 1997-2004 and from 2006-2020 (now acting Chair) of this investment trust of Blind SA.
• Braille Services Trust: Member and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2006.
• Member of the Board of Management and Management Committee of Cape Town Society for the Blind, and Treasurer from 2009 to 2017.
• Member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of Cape Town Society for the Blind’s CTSB Investment Trust from 2000 to 2020).
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