Our Board

Dr William Rowland – Chairman of the Board

William Rowland, Member of CBM Supervisory Board

Dr William Rowland was appointed chairman of the board of CBM South Africa in November 2014, taking over the reins from Ben Pizer, who was instrumental in expanding the international CBM family into South Africa

William has served as long-time National Executive Director of the SA National Council for the Blind, chairperson of Disabled People South Africa, President of the World Blind Union, and chairperson of the International Disability Alliance. He has also contributed on the Board of the SABC and the Council for the University of South Africa.

He continues to serve as Council member of the University of Johannesburg. A veteran in the field, he is described as being a driving force in the disability world, both nationally and internationally, and has changed the lives of many blind people.

William is a well-known poet and the author of ‘Nothing about us without us. Inside the Disability Rights Movement of South Africa.’ He recently received a National Lifetime Achievement Award at the South African Disability Rights Summit.


Dr Praveena Sukhraj-Ely – Board Member

CBM South Africa’s newest board member, Dr Praveena Sukhraj-Ely is fast making her mark within the justice system, proving that despite her visual impairment, she continues to rise to new heights. 

Praveena was born with 10% vision in one eye only. As a young girl, she lost her sight completely and excelled at the Arthur Blaxall School for the blind in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal.Her determination and tenacity have seen her hold a Bachelor of Social Science degree, with majors in Legal Studies and Political Science. She also obtained an LLB Degree in 2000 and a Master’s Degree in Political Science in 2002. She passed the National Bar Examination in 2002 and secured certificates in legislative drafting in 2007. Praveena earned her Doctorate in Public Policy in 2009.

She currently heads the Directorate of Persons with Disabilities, which was established in 2014 and is located within the Chief Directorate: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Earlier this year, Praveena was also appointed as one of five Principal Officers of the executive committee of the International Council for the Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI).


Ben Pizer – Board Member

A teacher by profession, Ben Pizer has a long history with CBM, both within the region, and in South Africa.

Ben began teaching in the early 1960s, and then returned to school himself to complete postgraduate studies in child psychology. He worked with troubled youth as a school psychologist for nine years, and was then offered a position with the Athlone School for the Blind in Cape Town. He was the director of the school for 19 years, taking early retirement in 1996. Shortly thereafter, he happened to bump into Gert Weiland, at the time the head of the CBM regional office, and he was quickly snapped up to fulfil the role of special education advisor for Southern Africa.

At the age of 67, Ben retired again, having contributed to CBM’s activities in Southern, East and West Africa. He is a founding board member of CBM South Africa, and the author of the document requesting a member association for the country.

Ben is enjoying his second retirement, and is an enthusiastic pocket watch collector – and repairer of clocks and watches of all shapes and sizes.


Sikelelwa Alex Msitshana – Board Member

Alex Msitshana joined the board in June 2013 and has added great value to the organisation through her commitment and energy in fighting for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream society.

As a person who experienced hearing loss later in her life, Alex has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and is passionate about protecting and fighting for their rights. Her activism during the apartheid era laid a strong foundation for her to champion the cause of justice for people with disabilities to enjoy equality, dignity, services, access to opportunities and achieve their full potential.

She has published a book – A Woman of Indomitable Character – and in 2013, she was awarded a scholarship to study towards a master’s in Psychology: Organisational Psychology and Developmental Leadership.