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Famous South Africans

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  • Willem Hermanus Coetzer (1900 - 1983)
    Welbekende Suid Afrikaans gebore Kunstenaar . Sien PDF document van sy lewe en werke saamgestel deur André de Beer.
  • Nataniel le Roux
    South-African singer, songwriter and entertainer. Nataniël launched his solo career in 1987 with the release of his first single, Maybe Time. Since then he has released 13 albums, staged more th...
  • Johann Friedrich Bernhard Rissik (1857 - 1925)
    Bronne: Geboorteakte, Burgerlijke Stand - (2) Sterfkennis - Grafsteen - Pretoriana, Johann Rissik Uitgawe. Voorblad , Deel 2 , Deel 3 , Deel 4 , Deel 5 , Deel 6 , Deel 7 , Deel 8 en Deel 9 .
  • François Petrus (Toon) van den Heever (1894 - 1956)
    François Petrus van den Heever , wat sy geskrifte hoofsaaklik onder die naam Toon van den Heever gepubliseer het, is op 29 November 1894 in Heidelberg, Transvaal gebore. Ná sy skoolopleid...
  • Elsabé Steenberg (1938 - 1996)

A project intended to record all the famous South Africans on our Geni tree: from writers, to statesmen & women, to sports heroes.

Hierdie Projek is bedoel om al die bekende Suid-Afrikaners aan te teken op ons Geni boom: van skrywers, tot staatshoofde en vroue, tot sport helde.

World Famous Notable Personalities

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The removal of Cecil John Rhodes' statue from UCT

Nobel Prize Winners

  • Max Theiler, (1899-1972.) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for vaccine for Yellow Fever. "for his discoveries concerning yellow fever and how to combat it"
  • Allan McLeod Cormack (1924-1998.) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for x-ray tomography. Born and studied in SA. X-ray work started in Cape Town before emigration to USA. Co-inventor of the CT scanner."for the development of computer assisted tomography"
  • Albert Lutuli, Peace, 1960. Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
  • Aaron Klug (1926-). 1982 Nobel prize in Chemistry for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes. Born Lithuania, raised and educated in SA, moved to UK in 1950s to pursue research work.
  • Desmond Tutu Peace, 1984
  • Nadine Gordimer Literature 1991 "who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity"
  • Nelson Mandela Peace 1993 and
  • FW de Klerk Peace 1993 "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa"
  • Sydney Brenner Physiology or Medicine 2002 for work in RNA biology."for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'" Born and educated in SA, moved to England to pursue research work.
  • J. M. Coetzee, Literature, 2003 "who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider"

Scientists, Environmentalists, Engineers & Inventors

Military Heroes

Still not on our tree - Anyone related to:

  • Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor 1894-1921. WW1 fighter pilot, VC recipient.
  • Roger Bushell (a.k.a. 'Big X') 1910-1944 He organised and led the famous escape from Stalag Luft III, later used as a basis for the film 'The Great Escape'
  • Edwin Harris Dunning 1892-1917 - Squadron Commander, Royal Naval Air Service, first person to land an aircraft on a moving ship (a prototype aircraft carrier).
  • John Dering Nettleton 1917-1943. WW2 VC recipient for daylight bombing raid on the Augsburg diesel engine factory in 1942.
  • Gerard Ross Norton. 1915-2004. One of four SA recipients of the VC during WW2. Captured enemy machine guns when his platoon was pinned down in Italy in 1944
  • Marmaduke Thomas St. John (Pat) Pattle. 1914-1941. WW2 fighter pilot, probably the highest scoring allied fighter pilot of the war, officially credited with 34 enemy aircraft, unofficially credited with over 50 however this is unconfirmed due to the loss of 80 (RAF) squadron's records during the chaotic retreat from Greece, Pattle's own death over Piraeus, and the loss of many other squadron members.
  • Quentin George Murray Smythe. 1916-1997. One of four SA recipients of the VC during WW2. Awarded for capture of german strong points in the Western Desert. Farmer from Richmond and grandson of penultimate Prime Minister of Natal
  • Edwin Essery Swales 1915-1945. WW2 VC recipient. Bomber pilot who lost his life when he held his crippled Lancaster aircraft steady, first to complete his role as master pathfinder on a raid, then for the other seven crew members to safely bail out.
  • General Sir Hesperus Andrias (Pierre) van Ryneveld 1891-1972, WW1 pilot, pioneer of the north-south air route from Britain to South Africa, then set up the South African airforce in 1920, and was Chief of the General Staff of the Union Defence Force, from 1933 to 1949, throughout WW2


Still not on our tree - Anyone related to:

  • Lionel Abrahams
  • Tatamkulu Afrika
  • Breyten Breytenbach, (1939– )
  • John Maxwell Coetzee, awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, (1940– )
  • Bryce Courtenay, (1933– )
  • Jeremy Cronin
  • Ahmed Essop, born in India, grew up in Johannesburg (1931– )
  • Athol Fugard, (1932– )
  • Damon Galgut, (1963– )
  • Bessie Head, born in South Africa but usually seen as a Botswanan writer, (1937–1986)
  • Elsa Joubert (OIS), born as Elsabé Antoinette Murray on 19 October 1922 in Paarl, is an Afrikaans-speaking South African writer who rose to prominence with her novel ‘Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena’
  • Douglas Livingstone, born in Malaysia, (1932–1996)
  • Chris Mann, (1949– )
  • Dalene Matthee, (1938–2005)
  • Zakes Mda, (1948– )
  • Es'kia (Ezekiel) Mphahlele, (1919–2008 )
  • Oswald Mtshali, (1940– )
  • Pauline Smith (1882 - 1959)
  • Alan Paton, (1903–1988)
  • Sol T. Plaatje, (1876–1932)
  • Laurens van der Post, (1906–1996)
  • Sipho Sepamla, (1932–2007 )
  • Mongane Wally Serote, (1944– )
  • Wilbur Smith, (1932– )
  • Christopher van Wyk, (1957– )



  • Thomas Baines, colonial painter and explorer (1820–1875)
  • Walter Whall Battiss 1906 - 1982 Painter/Artist
  • Daniel Cornelius Boonzaaier 1865 - 1950 Cartoonist
  • Gregoire Boonzaaier 1909 - 2005 Painter/Cape Impressionist
  • Gabriel Cornelis de Jongh 1913 - 2004 Painter/Artist
  • Martinus Johannes de Jongh 1885 - 1942 Painter/Artist
  • David Goldblatt (1930 - ) Documentary Photographer
  • Maggie Laubser 1886 - 1973 Painter/ Expressionist
  • Peter Magubane (1932 - ) Photographer
  • Pieter Hugo Naude 1868-1938 Skilder/Artist
  • George Pemba, visual artist (1912–2001)
  • Frederick Timpson l'Ons (85), - SA painter of the early life in the Eastern Cape, died in Grahamstown. He was born in Islington, Middlesex, England on 15 November 1802. and, accompanied by his wife, moved to the Cape Colony in 1834. His works portrayed life on the frontier and included portraits of the Khoikhoi and Africans as well as landscapes.
  • Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef 1886 - 1957 Landscape Painter
  • Jan Gerard Sekoto, artist and musician (1913–1993)
  • Irma Stern 1894 - 1966 Painter/Expressionist
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff, painter (1913–2006)
  • Cecil Skotnes, painter (1926–2009)
  • Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) (1958 -)
  • Rufus Papenfus Spotprent Tekenaar/Caricature Artist


Still not on our tree - Anyone related to:

  • Brenda Nokuzola Fassie (1964 – 2004) Singer
  • Miriam Zenzile Makeba (1932 - 2008) Singer
  • Hugh Ramopolo Masekela (born April 4, 1939) Jazz Musician; Singer
  • Patrick Beattie Mynhardt 1932- 2007 Actor
  • Trevor Noah
  • Leon Schuster
  • Pieter Dirk Uys
  • Nataniel le Roux


  • Valentine Tobias 1925-2012
  • Fields- Anthropology
  • Thesis -Chromosomes, Sex Cells, and Evolution in the Gerbil (1953)
  • Known for - Paleoanthropological and evolutionary work
  • Notable awards-Fellow of the Royal Society

Convicted Criminals

  • Peter Becker (1673-1747) Suspected murderer and convicted barbarian (cruelty). The last time (1717) he was convicted he was banished to Robben Island for life, and he probably died there in 1747.
  • Daisy de Melker
  • Maria Mouton 1690-1714 Probably the first woman executed at the Cape (for murder of her husband Frans Joosten)
  • Anna Rabie (born Knoetzen) 1810-1842 Publicly hanged for murder of her husband
  • Andre Stander 1946-1984. Audacious bank-robbing police officer from Kempton Park. Son of Frans Stander, a general in the department of correctional services.

2014 Trial of Oscar Pistorius

Political Leaders

See also: Governors of the Cape Colony Project

Fighters for Freedom from Oppression & Peaceful Activists

  • Stephen Bantu Biko (1946 – 1997) Political Activist murdered in police custody
  • Koos de la Rey Boer War General
  • Mohandas Gandhi
  • Davidson Jabavu
  • Tengo Jabavu
  • Ahmed Mohamed "Kathy" Kathrada (1929 - ) Political Activist
  • Helen Joseph 1905 - 1992 Appalled by the plight of black women In South Africa, she was pivotal in the formation of the Federation of South African Women and with the organisation's leadership, spearheaded a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws on August 9, 1956. This day is still celebrated as South Africa's Women's Day
  • Thuli Madonsela Public Protector
  • Sailor Malan
  • Nelson Mandela (b. 1918); leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe 1961-90; President of South Africa 1994-99; Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1993
  • Fatima Meer (1928 – 2010) Political Activist
  • Rahima Moosa 1922-1933 Anti-apartheid activist in SA . Heavily pregnant, she was a key figure of the Women’s March against pass laws in SA on 9 Aug 1956 - now celebrated as Women's Day in SA
  • Beyers Naude
  • Lilian Masediba Ngoyi 1911-1980 Anti-apartheid activist. She led a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws on August 9, 1956. This day is still celebrated as South Africa's Women's Day
  • Hector Pieterson (1964 - 16 June 1976) Schoolboy shot dead In Soweto riots for protesting Bantu Education
  • Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu (1918 – 2011) Political Activist called 'the mother of the nation', Nurse and wife of Walter Sisulu
  • Robert Sobukwe(1924-1978) former political activist and founder of PAC
  • Walter Ulyate Sisulu (1912 – 2003) Political Activist
  • Oliver Tambo (1917-1993) Political Activist, spent 30 years in exile
  • Archbishop Emeritus Mpilo Desmond Tutu (1931 -) Archbishop of CT; Humanitarian
  • Sheila Weinberg (1945 – 2004) Political Activist; Humanitarian
  • Sophia Williams 1938 – was 18 years old when she led 20 000 women in protest against the pass laws in SA on 9 Aug 1956 - today celebrated as Women's Day in SA.

Sports Men and Women



  • Gary Player
  • Ernie Els
  • Retief Goosen


  • Ali Bacher
  • Hansie Cronje
  • Fanie de Villiers
  • Basil D'Oliveira
  • Allan Donald
  • Tony Greig -South African born; England
  • Jacques Kallis
  • Gary Kirsten
  • Allan Lamb South African born; South Africa; England
  • Makhaya Ntini
  • Graeme Pollock
  • Jonty Rhodes
  • Clive Rice
  • Kepler Wessels - South African born. South Africa; Australia
  • Charles Gustav Fichardt


  • Natalie du Toit GOLD medal London 2012 Natalie du Toit Women's 100m Butterfly - her 11th gold medal overall.
  • Karen Muir
  • Ryk Neethling
  • Roland Mark Schoeman


  • Cliff Drysdale
  • Bob Hewitt
  • Johan Kriek
  • Frew Macmillen
  • Raymond Moore
  • Brian Norton (1899)
  • Andrew Patterson
  • Sandra Reynolds Price
  • Eric Sturgess
  • Sheila Summers
  • Renee Schuurman
  • Russel Seymour
  • Pat Spence



  • Johannes van der Walt (The Masked Wonder)

SA Olympic Team 2012:

  • Cameron van der Burgh. icn_favorite.gif Men's 100m Breaststroke Gold Medalist 58.46 WR
  • Chad le Clos. icn_favorite.gif Men's 400m Butterfly Gold Medalist 1;52.96
  • James Thompson icn_favorite.gif one of the Lightweight Four Rowing team


  • Ian Player (1927 – )
  • James Stevenson-Hamilton

Heroes and Heroines

Mining Greats

  • Barney Barnato
  • Cecil John Rhodes
  • George Harrison - prospector (dates unknown) who discovered the gold bearing Main Reef on the farm Langlaagte in 1886, which lead to the gold rush on the Witwatersrand and the creation of Johannesburg.
  • Harry Oppenheimer (1908-2000). Businessman - De Beers, Anglo American
  • Hans Merensky 1871-1952 German South African geologist, prospector, scientist, conservationist and philanthropist. He discovered the rich deposit of alluvial diamonds at Alexander Bay in Namaqualand, vast platinum and chrome reefs at Lydenburg, Rustenburg and Potgietersrus, which led to some of the largest platinum mines in the world, phosphates and copper at Phalaborwa in the Transvaal lowveld, gold in the Free State and the world’s biggest chrome deposit at Jagdlust near Pietersburg.



Chief Rabbis:

Titanic Survivors and Casualties with South African Connections

The following people who were on the Titanic when she sank on 15 April 1912 have connections to South Africa. Some are quite tenuous or distant!

Connect the People to the Places in 'Cuzzin Country'

Personal Stories


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