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It is a pleasure to be able to write an introduction to this two-part history of registration of the engineering profession, having been involved one way or another with this "struggle" since my school days: my father "M M" and older brother Kobus were active in the promotion of registration from the 1940’s onwards, so that I was indoctrinated and became a follower of the cause even before my engineering studies started.

The first part of the history deals with the initial attempts at registration, starting a century ago, up to the first meeting of the South African Council for Professional Engineers (SACPE) in February 1969 and the promulgation of the regulation covering work reservation in August 1969. It was drafted by Dr M R (Mike) Gericke, the driving force for the previous ten years - an expert in coercing engineers and the government alike to pass a bill for the registration of engineers. Only one person could not be coerced: legal adviser George Pool knew what was best for the engineers and he saw that we got it. Mike was the natural choice for the first president of SACPE. His outstanding leadership in this period paved the way for another two terms, even if it meant shuttling between Plettenberg Bay and Johannesburg on a regular basis. When Mike offered to write the history of registration up to the time that SACPE came into operation, all council members volunteered to give him any information they had, particularly so for the time before 1960; but for the rest Mike did the writing up himself, using the impartial and impersonal style which was his hall-mark. It is a tremendous effort, complemented by a full spectrum of annexures. 

When the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) took over from SACPE and the three Boards of Control in 1991, an early decision taken was to place the history of the latter on record as soon as possible. It was agreed that the person best suited to do the work was Mr. A M (Mike) Kruger, recently retired as the registrar of SACPE. We knew that it could only be done by someone who had been directly involved, who could spare the time to wade through the piles of files - and who could find them. The choice was obvious. So Mike had a corner allocated to him in the ECSA offices and spent months piecing the history together. We had many discussions on how to arrange it all, but Mike was left to break away from the formal minutes style and for once express himself informally and with feeling in an ECSA document! The use of footnotes referring to sources was a good choice, doing away with a mountain of annexures, yet enabling any so inclined serious students to check the information at the ECSA offices. It is quite possible, indeed likely, that their research will uncover some errors of fact which escaped the notice of authors and editor alike. Regarding the editing of the two histories, we requested Wolf Weidemann to do this with the gentlest of hands, so as to disturb the characteristic individual styles of the authors as little as possible. It follows that this history should be read as relating the viewpoints of the authors and editor, and not as formal SACPE or ECSA policy statements. 

The Engineering Profession owes much to our two Mikes for their effort, but our thanks and appreciation go even more to them and the other leaders for placing the profession in the unified position it now enjoys, where it is in a position to cope with the new demands made by the community in the broadest sense. At the same time, I am sure that the Profession’s leaders will be the first to acknowledge that the most important reason for the success they had, lay in the active support they received from such a large section of the profession’s members. Now, more than ever, it has become necessary for all members to participate in developments and to make their contributions in the engineering societies and by registering with ECSA. One such contribution could be to assist in drafting a history of ECSA up to the present! 

Dr Raimund Loubser Pr Eng
Past Vice-President of SACPE March 1997 and Past President of ECSA

Click below to view the following periods: 

Period 1890 to 1968