Jakes Gerwel

City Council honours Gerwel

The City of Cape Town has honoured the late Professor, Jakes Gerwel, former Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, by renaming one of Cape Town’s biggest and busiest roads after him.

Vanguard Drive, an extension of the N7 from the N1 intersection to False Bay coast, will now be called Jakes Gerwel Drive after the Council adopted its Naming Committee’s recommendation to do so. The proposal was submitted to the City by the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, of which Gerwel was the founding chairperson.

Since Vanguard Drive does not bear the name of any historical figure (explains a statement by the City, issued on 24 April), and seeing that Gerwel was most active professionally and otherwise in the suburbs adjacent to Vanguard Drive, it was motivated that the renaming is geographically appropriate.

More than 600 residents were engaged in the city-wide public participation process, and those who supported the proposal agreed that the late Gerwel is “a worthy icon” to be honoured, and that his achievements as a senior member of former President Nelson Mandela’s administration should be recognised.

Under his leadership as the Vice Chancellor and Rector of UWC between 1987 and 1994, a generation of professionals was educated – many of whom have taken to heart Gerwel’s belief in the human spirit and in community.

“Jakes Gerwel was committed to a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society, and his spirit is reflected in his deeply held commitment to education, anti-racism and political freedom,” the statement read.

“The professor knew his community well and never forgot his roots as a coloured Afrikaner intellectual, committed to non-racialism and radical change. He also had a passion for Afrikaans as a unifying language, rather than a source of racial division, and he was deeply committed to artists and creative workers.”

He remained a child of the Karoo and of the Cape Flats, commuting between Somerset East and Belhar, where he lived from the early 1970s until his death on 28 November 2012.