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Famous South Africans

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  • Jaap Marais (1922 - 2000)
  • Paul Oliver Sauer (1898 - 1976)
    Paul Oliver Sauer (1 Januarie 1898, Wynberg – 11 Januarie 1976, Stellenbosch) was ’n Suid-Afrikaanse kabinetsminister en lewenslange lid van die Nasionale Party.
  • Christiaan Ernst Schutte (1847 - 1916)
    Christiaan Ernst Schutte (24 Jan 1846 - 27 Sep 1916), 4de landdros van Pretoria, wat in sy hoedanigheid Pretoria amptelik aan Lord F S Roberts van die Engelse oorhandig het tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog...
  • William Henry Clegg (1867 - 1945)
    Baptism Entry Death Notice
  • Dr. Johannes Postmus (1877 - 1947)

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 SA Personalities

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"


Medicine; Biology; Chemistry

  • Dr Christiaan Barnard led the team who performed the world's first heart transplant in Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town in December 1967.
  • Sydney Brenner (1927-) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002 for work in RNA biology.
  • 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.
  • William Hofmeyr Craib (1895-1982) Professor of Medicine at Wits; developed the REAL theory behind the Electrocardiogram (for which Einthoven received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1924)
  • Aaron Klug (1926-). 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.
  • Avril Irè Malan -Have written and published more than 60 Scientific "verhandelinge." For this he Won the Havenga Award of the S.A Akademie for Science. Chairman of the board of directors of Volkska Bpk Served as director on various other companies. Professor in Biochemie and feeding due to his studies and research at Onderstepoort
  • Sir Arnold Theiler (1867-1936). Swiss-born father of veterinary science in South Africa. Developed vaccines for smallpox amongst Witwatersrand gold miners, and for rinderpest in cattle.
  • Max Theiler, (1899-1972.) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for vaccine for Yellow Fever.


  • Robert Broom (1866-1951). Medical doctor, paleontologist and paleoanthropologist. Studied mammal-like reptiles from the Karoo, then joined the Transvaal Museum and carried out excavations at Sterkfontein and other sites, finding 'Mrs Ples'. Proposer of the 'Australopithicine' family of early hominids.
  • Phillip Tobias (1925-) Paleoanthropologist

Engineering & Invention

  • Ferdinand Chauvier (-1985). Hydrualics engineer who emigrated to SA from the Belgian-Congo in 1951 and designed the pool Kreepy-Krauly in 1974.
  • William Angus Hofmeyr Inventor, Stigter, WA Hofmeyr NASPERS award winner, Founder of businesses such as SANLAM, SANTAM, Senator, Writer, LLB
  • Eric Mowbray Merrifield (-1982). East London Harbour Engineer, and Aubrey Kuger (dates unknown) - designers of the dolos concrete blocks used to protect harbours and breakwaters from damage by ocean waves.
  • George Pratley (-1983). Inventor and engineer. Designer of pratley putty glue, that amongst other things was used to hold parts of spacecraft together in 1969 on the Apollo 11 first moon-landing mission.
  • Sir Basil Schonland OMG CBE FRS (1896-1972) Schonland was a major contributor to twentieth-century British and Commonwealth science, both in peace and war. He was the first President of the CSIR. Brian Austin wrote his biography: Schonland: Scientist and Soldier: From lightning on the veld to nuclear power at Harwell: the life of Field Marshal Montgomery's scientific adviser


  • James Stevenson-Hamilton (1867-1957). Considered the father of the Kruger Park, through his efforts as administrator to establish and protect the initial park.
  • Eugene Marais (1871-1936) Naturalist





  • Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946) Architect commissioned by Cecil Rhodes to rebuild Groote Schuur hospital; designed the Union Buildings in Pretoria; South Africa House in London, new Bank of England in London. He wrote his reminiscences, 'Cecil Rhodes by His Architect'
  • Wynand Hendrik Louw (1883 - 1967)
  • Geerard Moerdijk 1890- 1958 – Architect of the Voortrekker Monument


  • 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, b1c1d8e6f5 (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
  • Cornelius Bosch (1956 – 2011) A South African artist who has been working as a painter full-time for 20 years. His works range from landscapes to abstract paintings. He was murdered Feb 2011.


Food and Beverages


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
  • Adam Tas
  • General Constand Laubscher Viljoen, SSA, SD, SOE, SM, MMM, MP
  • 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.

Military Heroes

  • J.P.H. Crowe First South African born recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Koos de la Rey Boer War General
  • Christiaan de Wet Anglo-Boer War General
  • Jan Christoffel Greyling Kemp Boer War General
  • Kommandant Johannes Cornelius Lötter Cape rebel executed during Boer War
  • Major General Dan Pienaar WWII
  • Sailor Malan Decorated WWII pilot
  • Generaal Wynand Malan Cape Rebel
  • Andries Pretorius General of the Voortrekker Commando at the Battle of Bloodriver on 16 December 1838
  • Gideon Jacobus Scheepers Cape rebel executed during Boer War
  • Danie Theron Leader of the Boer Scouts during the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
  • 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
  • Dirkie Uys

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 (June 1 1886- December 30 1932) was the 2nd woman to be hanged for murder in SA. She allegedly poisoned two husbands & was convicted of killing her only son
  • Maria Mouton 1690-1714 Probably the first woman executed at the Cape (for murder of her husband Frans Joosten)
  • Oscar Pistorius convicted of murdering Reeva Steenkamp in 2015 trial with Gerrie Nel as Prosecutor, Barry Roux as Defense and Thokozile-Masipa as Judge.
  • 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.
  • Kobus Geldenhuys The "Norwood Serial Killer"
  • Simon Mpungose "The Hammerman" serial killer





  • Ali Bacher
  • Hansie Cronje
  • Fanie de Villiers
  • Basil D'Oliveira
  • Allan Donald
  • Charles Gustav Fichardt
  • 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 Boxing
  • Corrie Sanders Professional boxer who competed from 1989 to 2008. He won the WBO heavyweight title in 2003 after knocking out Wladimir Klitschko, died on 23 September 2012 after being shot during an armed robbery.


Motor Sports

  • Jan Hettema Multiple South African national rally champion, killed in a Farm Attack on his small holding in Cullinan just outside of Pretoria. He was 83 years old.
  • Giniel De Villiers


  • Natalie du Toit GOLD medal London 2012 Natalie du Toit Women's 100m Butterfly - her 11th gold medal overall.
  • Chad le Clos. Men's 400m Butterfly Gold Medalist 2012
  • Karen Muir
  • Ryk Neethling
  • Roland Mark Schoeman
  • Tatjana Schoenmaker won the silver medal in the 100-metre breaststroke at the 2020 Olympic Games
  • Cameron van der Burgh Men's 100m Breaststroke Gold Medalist 2012


  • Kevin Anderson
  • 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)


  • Senzo Meyiwa (1984 - 2014) Bafana Bafana captain, shot dead in an apparent robbery)


  • Bianca Buitendag Won silver in the women's shortboard competition in the 2020 Summer Olympics



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


Heroes and Heroines

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!

Personal Stories


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