Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday added his voice to those expressing their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Professor Jakes Gerwel.
The late political figure, who served as Director-General in the Office of then President Nelson Mandela and Cabinet Secretary of the Government of National Unity from 1994 to June 1999, passed away in the early hours of this morning in Cape Town.
"South Africans will remain eternally grateful to Professor Gerwel for laying a strong administrative foundation concretising the new ethos of a free and non-racial South Africa and for leading a team of dedicated heads of departments to drive government's vision of reconciliation as well as reconstruction and development at a crucial time in the history of our country.
"We will sorely miss the tenacity and dedication of this distinguished academic and leader of our society.
"On behalf of government and the people of South Africa, we wish to convey our deepest condolences and may his soul rest in peace," said President Zuma.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille also extended heartfelt condolences to Gerwel's family.
"I am saddened by the news of the passing of Prof. Jakes Gerwel. On behalf of the City of Cape Town, I would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends, and wish them strength during this difficult time."
Gerwel is a signatory of the City of Cape Town's Civic Honours Book, which is one of the highest civic honours bestowed by the city to individuals who have made a significant contribution in business, academia and leadership.
Dr Gerwel was awarded the Order of Southern Cross (Gold) by then President Nelson Mandela. He holds several honorary doctorates from South African and international universities.
He has made an immense contribution to enhance democracy in the country through his numerous leadership roles in government, civil society organisations and academia. His previous publications include the groundbreaking study, Literature en Apartheid (Literature and Apartheid).
Professor Jakes Gerwel was born in 1946, and grew up on a sheep farm in the district of Somerset East in the Eastern Cape.