South Africa’s Latest Philanthropy Role Models

Most of us wish certain things would improve in South Africa, but we tend to be passive whingers rather than active citizens. The following 15 philanthropists fall into the latter group. They’re active citizens who are helping make a real difference.

These exceptional individuals were honoured for their financial contributions at the annual Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards in Cape Town on November 15, 2010. Each recipient has shown a true commitment to social development and an enormous capacity to inspire others to give. They come from a range of financial circumstances.

South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu listens to a reporter as he addresses the media in Pretoria in this March 21, 2003 file photo. Tutu, who used his church pulpit as a platform to help bring down apartheid, officially retired from public duties on October 7, 2010. REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya/Files (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: HEADSHOT POLITICS RELIGION)

South Africa’s Top 15 Philanthropists:

  • Internationally renowned Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife of 50 years, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, have been awarded the Inyathelo Indima-Tema Philanthropy Award for their tireless efforts to enhance the lives of others and their commitment to improving South Africa’s social development. The couple have been the voices that kept the flame of human rights issues burning during apartheid and in the years following freedom in 1994. They now support and assist a wide range of humanitarian initiatives in South Africa. The Award which, loosely translated, means forging a path or reviewing the positive work that you’ve done, was especially created by Inyathelo this year to honour this remarkable couple.
  • Mr Linda Clement Twala from Alexandra, Johannesburg, was awarded The 2010 Inyathelo Award for Lifetime Philanthropy for his outstanding efforts in providing support for the sick, elderly and youth in his community for the past 43 years. He started the Phuthaditjaba centre in the 1960s to provide care for the elderly in Alexandra, as well as a wide variety of other activities such as skills and youth development.
  • For creating 18twenty8, an initiative that empowers disadvantaged young women by providing crucial life skills through workshops and mentoring, well-known actress, TV Presenter, voice-over artist and businesswoman, Ms Refiloe Seseane of Johannesburg, has been awarded The 2010 Inyathelo Youth in Philanthropy Award. To date, the organisation has reached and inspired over 750 high-potential girls in Grade 11 and 12 at 11 high schools in Vosloorus, Daveyton, Wattville, Tembisa, Katlehong and Soweto. She has also established the 18twenty8 Big Sister network which pairs educated, professional women who are established in their respective careers with like-minded Little Sisters to mentor them as they plan their careers in a similar field. 18twenty8 is one of the few organisations in South Africa that is 100% led by young women who empower other young women.
  • Ms Ivonne Gentle from Britstown has been awarded The 2010 Inyathelo Philanthropy Award for Women in Philanthropy for establishing Gentle Care, a centre to care for sick people in this remote poverty-stricken district in the Northern Cape. The centre also hosts workshops to teach skills to the community.
  • South African-born Anthony Record, and his American wife, Carole, who live in the United Kingdom, have been awarded The 2010 Inyathelo Award for International Philanthropy to South Africa for the establishment of the Light from Africa Foundation. This project is a Ceramic Art Studio, Gallery and philanthropic foundation, promoting skills development and employment through ceramic art, and generating funding. Previously unemployed people in Cape Town use the ceramic skills learnt through the centre to generate funding in support of the operating costs of several children’s homes in the Western Cape.
  • By allocating 70% of the shares in his company, Mertech Group, to the totally independent Mergon Foundation, Francois van Niekerk of Pretoria has been able to raise some R30-million per annum to support social investment programmes in South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and the United Kingdom. He has co-established the Atterbury Trust and the Atterbury Foundation, both aimed at improving education and providing support for those living in poverty, as well as Muthobi, a not-for-profit investment consultancy which links businesses and ground-level organisations together in order to create value for those in greatest need. Van Niekerk’s commitment to improving the lives of others for the past 31 years has earned him The 2010 Inyathelo Special Recognition Award for Philanthropy.
  • George Mazarakis, Executive Producer of popular investigative programme, Carte Blanche and Trustee of the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Campaign together with the patron of the campaign, Karolina Andropoulos, have been honoured for their use of the media to promote philanthropy generally, and to encourage South Africans to donate, in support of equipping paediatric units in hospitals with life-saving equipment. George and Karolina have jointly been awarded The 2010 Inyathelo Award for the Support of Philanthropy in the Media. The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, King Edward VIII hospital in Durban, Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein and the Kimberley Hospital Complex have all benefitted from the R71-million raised through this media-based campaign.
  • Two Inyathelo Awards for Community Philanthropy were made this year.

– Mr Jonathan Schrire from Wynberg in the Western Cape was given an Inyathelo Award for Community Philanthropy for his work with the Vrygrond Community Development Trust in the establishment of the Vrygrond public library, Sunrise Preschool and Capricorn Primary School, all of which have impacted fundamentally on the lives of the children in the area. His work in Vrygrond, spanning 15 years, has united a community once plagued with murder, gangsterism and conflict.

– Recognising the systemic cycle of poverty on many wine farms in the Cape, two far-sighted wine farmers established an equity and profit-sharing initiative that revolutionised the quality of life of farmworkers on the Solms-Delta wine estate in the Franschhoek Valley. As a result of this partnership and the profits from the Wijn de Caab Trust, the nature of relationships on Solms-Delta wine farm have changed dramatically. The farm labour community, now having equity in the wine farm, also have vastly improved housing, educational opportunities for their children and medical care, to name a few benefits. This sustainable initiative has earned Mark Solms and Richard Astor of the Solms-Delta Wine Farm a 2010 Inyathelo Award for Community Philanthropy.

  • Two Inyathelo Merit Awards for Philanthropy have been awarded this year.

Mr Noel de Villiers, founder of AVIS South Africa, saw an opportunity to combine environmental conservation with income-generation in South Africa and neighbouring countries – and established Open Africa as a result. This non-profit organisation has enabled several communities in rural Africa to generate income through increased tourism to destinations off the beaten track. Open Africa also encourages communities to conserve their environment as they come to understand the value of the environment to generate funds from tourism. With substantial investment of his personal funds, de Villiers’ dedication to creating tourism- and environment-related opportunities in rural areas, has earned him a 2010 Inyathelo Merit Award for Philanthropy.

Writer, Richard Mason received the second 2010 Inyathelo Merit Award for Philanthropy for the establishment of the Kay Mason Foundation (KMF). The foundation’s aim is to ensure that talented young people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, whatever their circumstances, by providing scholarships and bursary support. Mason has also developed Lulutho, a community development programme based in the Eastern Cape, which provides training and skills to local residents in setting up sustainable businesses. It also assists in reviving the local eco-system, as well as helping KMF students to experience the challenges facing rural communities.

MORE INFO: www.inyathelo.co.za or www.philanthropy.org.za