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Prof Gerwel was an 'incredible person'

UWC Vice Chancellor Brian O'Connell pays tribute to the late Professor Jakes Gerwel.

UWC Vice Chancellor Brian O'Connell pays tribute to the late Professor Jakes Gerwel.

CAPE TOWN - University of the Western Cape Vice Chancellor Brian O'Connell on Wednesday described the late Professor Jakes Gerwel as an inspiring teacher and an intellectual.

Gerwel died at a Kuilsriver Hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after undergoing heart surgery earlier in the week.

The 66-year-old was the university's rector and vice-chancellor in 1987.

He was also a director-general in the office of former president Nelson Mandela.

O'Connell recalled his long relationship with the professor.

"Jakes was an incredible person. I was a student with him at UWC in the 1960s. He was fighting against the government of the day. He was opposed to segregation."

Meanwhile, National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel has described Gerwel as a "big thinker" who had strong ethics and foundations.

The minister recalled the times he spent with the late Kader Asmal and Gerwel, while they were serving in the Mandela administration.

"For me, it was an amazing learning opportunity about the depth of the individual. [He was] completely belied by his external appearance, but he was a giant amongst us. His contribution will be recognised and sorely missed on an ongoing basis."

President Jacob Zuma also sent his condolences to Gerwel's family and friends.

Gerwel was also the chairperson of Media24.