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29 November 2012

Professor Jakes Gerwel – HSRC expresses its condolences

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) wishes to extend its condolences to the family of the late Professor Jakes Gerwel, who served as chair of the HSRC Board during a pivotal time of transformation and who helped establish the organisation as a globally recognised social sciences and humanities institute.

Prof. Gerwel served as the chairperson of the HSRC Board from 1999 to 2009.

The chair of the HSRC Board, Mrs Phumelele Nzimande, who succeeded Prof. Gerwel in 2010, said she served under him as an ordinary Board member. “I learnt a lot from him about the strategic role of the Board to support and not micro-manage the executive. He left a legacy of a well-run and credible HSRC. I used to joke with him that his skills learned while chairing Senate as an ex-vice chancellor had made him a brilliant chair of a knowledge-based institution like the HSRC.

“His power and influence lay in his soft-spoken and kind manner. His intellect will be missed dearly.”

Dr Olive Shisana, the CEO of the HSRC said that “it is with sadness that we take note of the loss of our dear friend, leading academic and former HSRC board chairperson. He was so dearly loved and we will miss him very much”. 

“Prof Gerwel was a key player in the transformation of the HSRC. At a difficult time, he steered a successful programme to transform the organisation into a productive and relevant research council,” she added.

He supported the HSRC in its work on HIV/AIDS at the time when government was in denial about the extent of the problem. He managed to ensure funding of the HSRC to conduct the first population-based survey on HIV/AIDS and behavioural determinants.  Jakes was fearless, but did so with humility and fairness.

Dr Shisana said Prof. Gerwel’s family is in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

“Hamba Kahle – May your soul rest in peace”.

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