Who we are

Founder member

Phoebé Gerwel

Phoebé Gerwel, the widow of Professor Jakes Gerwel, is the founder member of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation. She obtained her degree in Social Work at the University of the Western Cape. Due to the executive role Professor Gerwel played in the establishment of the Suidooster Festival, Phoebé has been honoured as the Patron of the Suidooster Fees.

Phoebé has donated Paulet House, the beloved retreat in Somerset East of her husband Professor Jakes Gerwel, to The Jakes Gerwel Foundation.

Phoebé has an active role in the Suidooster Festival, The Jakes Gerwel Family Trust and the Jakes Gerwel Foundation.

Board of Trustees

Brian Figaji (Chairperson)

Brian Figaji obtained his B.Sc. degree and postgraduate tertiary education diploma at the University of the Western Cape. Besides other degrees, including a master’s degree from Harvard University, he obtained, Brian also received several honorary doctorates. He worked as a consulting civil engineer and served as chancellor and vice chancellor of the Peninsula Technikon.

Brian is a fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineers, the South African Society for Professional Engineers and the South African Academy of Engineering. He is also a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Brian further served on the Council of Higher Education (CHE), was director of the Nedbank Group, non-executive chair of Irvin & Johnson and was a board member of the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Brian is still active in local and international communities by serving as, for example, director of the Youth Development Trust South Africa, the president of the Boy Scouts in the Western Cape and as South Africa’s representative on the UNESCO Executive Board.

Mustaq Enus-Brey

Mustaq Brey is CEO of Brimstone Investment Corporation, a company he co-founded in 1995. A chartered accountant by profession, Mustaq serves as chairperson of the Oceana Group, Life Healthcare and Interfront. He also serves on the boards of Equites Property Fund, Aon Re South Africa, Lion of Africa Insurance Company and House of Monatic.

Mustaq further serves on and chairs various board committees of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation and he is an independent director of the Western Province Cricket Association as well as the chairperson of its finance committee.

Founder of the Saabri & Ashrafi Relief Fund, Mustaq’s passion for uplifting communities underpins and connects his business and personal life.

Annari van der Merwe

Annari van der Merwe started her publishing career as head of the department of children’s and youth literature at Tafelberg Publishers in 1978 and stepped down as director of Random House South Africa in 2008. She would break ground by establishing Kwela Books for Naspers and by founding the imprint Umuzi for Random House.

Her literature studies at the University of Port Elizabeth and Rhodes University led Annari on to further studies at the Utrecht Rijksuniversiteit in the Netherlands. While Annari lectured in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch of Rhodes University, she completed her Ph.D. on Breyten Breytenbach’s poetry under the tutelage of André Brink. She also lectured from 1978 to the mid-1980s in the Afrikaans Department of the University of the Western Cape.

Annari is now a full-time painter.

Hein Gerwel

Heinrich Gerwel currently works in the Department of Agricultural Economics of Stellenbosch University while also teaching part-time at the School of Economics of the University of Cape Town. Heinrich’s research interests include development economics, social theory and policy, and productivity analysis.

Heinrich obtained both his honours and master’s degrees in economics at the University of the Western Cape. He completed his B.Sc. degree with an unusual double major in chemistry and economics at Rhodes University.

Having trained at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, Heinrich is also an accomplished cook.

Mfundo Nkuhlu

Mfundo Nkuhlu has a Bachelor of Arts honours degree from the University of the Western Cape and has completed the prestigious INSEAD Strategic Management in Banking programme as well as the Harvard Advanced Management programme.

Mfundo served as managing director at Nedbank Africa, before becoming the chief operating officer and executive director at the Nedbank Group Limited and at Nedbank Corporate Bank in 2015.

Prior to his involvement at Nedbank, Mfundo was the general manager of strategy and planning at the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and was responsible for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) during his service in the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mfundo is the author of many articles on economic relations as well as on economic integration in Southern Africa.

Wilmot James

Wilmot James is currently Visiting Professor of Non-Clinical Paediatrics and International Affairs at Columbia University. Wilmot obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and previously held office as Member of Parliament and as Shadow Minister of Health of the Democratic Alliance (DA). He also served as chairperson for the DA between 2010 and 2016.

A prolific writer and respected editor, Wilmot’s name appears on more than fifteen books, including a collection of essays on the public understanding of science and a co-edited collection of Nelson Mandela’s presidential speeches.

Wilmot has lectured at both the University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town. His postdoctoral and visiting professorial experience has been gained at Yale University, Indiana University, Edinburgh University and the California Institute of Technology.

Goolam Aboobaker

Goolam Aboobaker holds a B.Sc. honours degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and an M.Sc. in economics from the University of London. He worked as a medical physicist before becoming special assistant to Jakes Gerwel at the University of the Western Cape in 1988.

In 1995 Goolam was appointed Director of Cabinet Research in the late President Nelson Mandela’s office and in 1997 Chief Director of Economic Development in the policy unit of the office of the deputy president. After his tenure as the senior advisor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Goolam was appointed Deputy Director-General in the Ministry of Finance.

Goolam was a founding member of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Durban and was also involved in the launch of the United Democratic Front (UDF). Goolam’s involvement with the development agency Kagiso Trust stretches back to 1987.

Executive Director

Theo Kemp

Theo Kemp completed his M.A. in creative writing under the tutelage of Marlene van Niekerk and Willem Anker in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch of the University of Stellenbosch.

Theo’s debut novel Skool, presenting an exploration of the decline of state schools in South Africa, was published in 2011. Skool was nominated for three literary prizes, the Jan Rabie Rapport prize, the University of Johannesburg Creative Writing prize (debut category) and the South African Literary Awards (SALA) prize.

After a short teaching career, Theo worked as project manager at the SU Woordfees and as publicity manager at NB Publishers after which he established the Breytenbach cultural centre in Wellington.

Theo was further also involved in the KKNK Festival as programme manager and at Aardklop as book programme compiler. He was commissioned by the University of the Free State to establish the literature festival leg of the Vrystaat Arts Festival in 2016.

Theo was appointed as the first executive director of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation in August 2017.


François Bloemhof

François Bloemhof has already distinguished himself in grade 11 when he received the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award as co-winner. He has published more than 90 books up to date and nowhere in the world is there any author who writes as successfully and extensively for the adult, teenager and youth markets as he does. He has received multiple awards in each of these categories; his debut novel Die nag het net een oog was also crowned with the De Kat award. Among his other accolades count a number of ATKV Veertjies for which the readers themselves select the winning books.

His career is one of many firsts in the international, not only local, publishing market, such as, the first ever book with an original CD soundtrack composed by the author, the first book with its own computer game, the first flip over, the first interactive newspaper serial (in Rapport) and the first magazine novel. He was also responsible for the first ever Afrikaans graphic novel series (Agent Snoet) and the first e book (Spinnerak) in Afrikaans. François has also written for the stage (a cabaret, a play and two pieces for teenagers) and radio (dramas and serials) as well as serials in magazines. François freelances also as copy writer, reviewer, journalist and compiler. He has even taken up the role of fiction editor at Sarie and book editor at Die Burger before. His current hobby is to write music for singers who are looking for a somewhat different Afrikaans song. François’s first movie Double echo has been produced by Karoo Films.

Thérèse Hulme

Thérèse Hulme has a doctoral degree in Pastoral Therapy with a specialization in Narrative Therapy (UNISA). She has been working for the past eighteen years as a narrative practitioner.

As a poet, Thérèse debuted in Nuwe stemme 3 (2005). In 2009 she self-published piemp –  a volume of poetry and

a drama of the young people of Scottsville in Kraaifontein. She is also a published children’s book author.

In 2013, Thérèse and Linda van Duuren founded The Cape Town Narrative Co-op (www.capetownnarrativeco-op.org/) with the mission to take Narrative Practice into the everyday reality of school and NPO settings, through their workshops and training.

She is currently running the Yoh! creative writing project for the Jakes Gerwel Foundation with staff and learners at Grassy Park High School.

Amy Jefta

Rafiek Mammon

Rafiek Mammon is the former Cape Times Arts Editor and previous Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards judge and judge on many a festival’s panels throughout the country. Mammon is also a celebrated, award-winning playwright and director. His first play, ‘Seashells’ received a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival (NAF) in Grahamstown in 2012. His second play, ‘The Garage Sale’ ran to critical acclaim as the opening production of Artscape’s 10th annual Festival of New Writing in 2014. He directed the play ‘Syria?’ which also won a Standard Bank Ovation Award in 2017 at the NAF in Grahamstown. Before becoming a theatre maker he lectured in journalism at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He also taught an Arts Journalism elective to third year students at UCT in the Film and Media Studies Department. He holds a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in Modern Teaching Philosophies from The University of Stellenbosch, and a BA (Social Science) degree obtained at UCT. He is presently a freelance lecturer, playwright, theatre maker, Arts Festival judge, editor, Arts journalist and columnist.

Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh

Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh has been working in publishing since 1990 and for the last twenty-one years this has been on a freelance basis. She obtained her BA degree cum laude at Stellenbosch University, followed by an honours degree in journalism. Besides text editing, Suzette has also made her mark in manuscript assessment and development, translation, proofreading, project management, self-publications, book and film reviews (LitNet, Die Burger, kykNET’s Dagbreek) as well as interviewing writers (RSG’s Skrywers en Boeke). She also acts as mentor for text editors and as presenter at editing workshops. She is the co-compiler of Nuwe Kinderverseboek, Rympies vir Pikkies en Peuters, Rympies vir Kleintjies en Kleuters, Nuwe Stories 1, 2 & 3 and the US Woordfeesbundels from 2016 to 2019.

General manager of the Jakes Gerwel House

Beneatha Adams

Beneatha was born in Cradock as the youngest of eight children. She matriculated at Cradock High School. Beneatha met the Gerwel family in 2010, working at that stage for a security company in Somerset East. The Gerwel family appointed her as the caretaker of their beloved house in Somerset East. Prof Gerwel was a father figure for Beneatha. She remembers him as someone who loved people, who could see the good in all and who lived with an open hand. Beneatha was appointed in September 2018 as the general manager of the Jakes Gerwel House in Somerset East. She describes this house as a friendly place, with its doors wide open for all.