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School of Chemistry

Known as the central science, Chemistry draws on the language of mathematics and the laws of physics to describe the world around us from a chemical, biological and physical point of view.

Chemistry plays a vital part in our understanding of the structure and the interactions of matter, and it is crucial for a thorough understanding of disciplines as diverse as geology, molecular biology, biotechnology, medicine, materials science and environmental studies. Post-graduate programmes include BSc Honours in Chemistry (a requirement for recognition as a professional chemist), and research degrees by dissertation at the masters (MSc) level and by thesis at the doctoral (PhD) level. The Molecular Sciences Institute, the research arm of the School of Chemistry, is internationally regarded for its graduates and publications.

The South African Chemical Institute

The SACI Mission: To look after and represent the interest of chemists in South Africa.

Benefits of Belonging to SACI

SACI is the only body in South Africa which is concerned solely with the promotion of the interests of chemistry and chemists. This involves representation on SACNASP, NSTF/SETAG, CHIETA and other government and non-government organizations.

SACI has both a geographical (Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) and a discipline-based structure. The sections include analytical, chromatography, environmental, industrial, green, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical education, ChromSA, SAAMS and ThermSA.

Membership is open to all those with qualifications in chemistry or have an interest in      chemistry.

SACI holds a Convention every three years. Many of the sections also hold regular biennial specialist conferences.

Reduced registration fees apply for SACI members to SACI-sponsored conferences and workshops.

Membership of SACI entitles chemists to join IUPAC, and enjoy access to IUPAC publications and services.

SACI publishes an electronic research journal, the South African Journal of Chemistry.

SACI makes annual awards recognizing outstanding achievements by chemists.

SACI fosters and encourages student participation in events of interest to chemists, such as Young Chemists' Events, research colloquia, postgraduate symposia etc.

SACI publishes a monthly newsletter, which reports news and events of interest to chemists.

SACI has links with other related institutions and associations, for example the South African Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Chemical and Allied Industries Association and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Membership of SACI gives benefits when attending RSC events.

SACI carries out an annual salary survey.

Membership Requirement

The annual subscription year runs from 1st July to 30th June each year.  The subscription of members admitted between 1st January and 30th June is reduced by one-half.

Application for admission as, or transfer to, corporate member or associate member 

Summary for Requirements for  Admission    

The Council may admit as a Member:
a person who has completed a four-year course in any branch of chemistry and has been
granted a degree, diploma or certificate of an approved examining body, and (except in special cases) who has been engaged in full-time chemical work or further study in chemistry for at least three years; in exceptional circumstances, any person whose position and experience in chemistry justifies such admission.

The Council may admit as an Associate member:
A person regardless of qualification and experience, who is passionate about chemistry.
Method of application

Complete the on-line application form, and note particularly the need (item 7) to identify three referees, at least one of whom is a Member (corporate) of the SA Chemical Institute.   (This applies to Corporate Members grade only). Make sure you have filled in an email address.

Obtain documentary evidence (e.g. official letters, degrees or diploma certificates, or certified copies of these) of your experience and qualifications (items 6 - 10) and attach it to the online application

Once the application has been processed and approved you will receive an invoice from Head Office with banking details.  When payment is made please use your membership number as ref.

The Secretaries SA Chemical Institute

History of SACI

The history of the South African Chemical Institute has been written on two occasions. The first account was prepared by Principal H R Raikes who was President at the time of the twenty-first anniversary in 1933 and the second was compiled for the Golden Jubilee in 1962. It appeared in the pages of “The South African Industrial Chemist” in the January 1963 issue. The authorship is uncertain but it is suspected that Dr Ken Mathieson, the enthusiastic editor of this journal, was responsible.

The two aforementioned accounts have proved of considerable value in preparing this review of the history. Another important source of information was the comprehensive series of Annual Reports that have been published each year and contain a chronological account of events. It is hoped that the reader will refer to them if necessary.

The birth of the Institute in 1912 happened only twenty-six years after the discovery of gold
on the Witwatersrand in 1886. The general infrastructure for the gold mining industry was very new and still developing. The chemist population was small throughout the country and training facilities were still being established. James Gray, who is reputed to have been the driving force behind the founding of the Institute, was born in Cape Town in 1882, his father having settled there after leaving his job as a ship’s engineer in a vessel ferrying troops to the Zulu war. In 1889, when his father moved to the Witwatersrand to the newly developed gold mines (a Rand Pioneer), James was sent to relatives in Glasgow for his education. When he returned, a qualified Associate of the Institute of Chemistry from the Glasgow Technical College in 1902,he went to the Witwatersrand but could not get a job as a chemist and had to work as a mine surveyor. After a while he was employed in Heymann’s Laboratories as an Analytical and Consulting Chemist but started his own business about 1910. One can imagine, at that time, that there was almost an obsession to have the chemical profession recognised, as there was no way the public could distinguish the unqualified practitioner from the qualified. This therefore was one of the main objectives of the Association of Analytical Chemists when founded.

As a general rule, unless there is a particular relevance to the text, names are not mentioned in this account and the reader is referred to the Annual Report for the year in question if further information is required.

Download history documents below

History of SACI - DJS Gray: 1912 - 1978

History of SACI - IR Green: 1978 - 2012

Sir Martyn Poliakoff visits Wits