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AlumNews and profiles 

Welcome to AlumNews, a regular item in the TuksAlumni-ePOS, in which you can read all about the latest achievements of fellow alumni. You are welcome to submit contributions to or by fax to +27 012 362 5088. Be sure to include your highest UP qualification and the year in which you graduated. 

Oom Willie Fourie celebrated his 100th birthday on 3 May 2009, saying he still feels as if he was only 80 years old. He calls himself one of the few people who are true ‘Tukkies’ – students who enrolled at the Transvaal University College (TUC) before it became the University of Pretoria. He has been a teacher all his life. When he moved back to the family farm after his retirement, he started a school for the farmworkers’ children. He currently stays in the Ruimtesig Retirement Village in Faerie Glen. 

Jacqui Pietersen of the TuksAlumni Office and Oom Willie Fourie

Mr Kennedy Gihana is a living example of the power of determination. Born of Tutsi parents and a genocide survivor, Kennedy was admitted as an attorney in the Pretoria High Court in August last year. After losing his parents and eight of his siblings in the Rwandan genocide, Kennedy sought refuge in South Africa. He realised the only way he could be a ‘voice to the voiceless’ and fight injustice in his country was to pursue a career in law. This brought him to the University of Pretoria. Kennedy got a job at the University library, and all the money he earned went towards his tuition.

He secretly slept in the library in order to save money and continue with his studies. He then appealed to the former dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Duard Kleyn, whom Kennedy affectionately calls his ‘father’. Prof Kleyn was deeply touched by this determined individual and created a job in the faculty for him as student assistant to the dean. Kennedy successfully passed his degree, never having to repeat a single subject, as he would have had trouble re-registering, considering that he owed the University R50 000 in tuition fees. He recently received a bursary from the company LexisNexis and the law journal De Rebus to complete a master’s degree in International Law.

André van der Spuy was born in Brooklyn – near Sonop Residence, where he stayed during his studies – on 21 November 1931. His father, Danie, who studied for a BA UED at UP in the 1920s and later obtained an MA in Afrikaans, also stayed in Sonop and was secretary of the house committee in his final year.    

André attended Auckland Park Primary and Helpmekaar High School, and matriculated with colours for rugby and as prefect in 1949. In 1950, he also received colours at Tukkies for U/19 rugby. In the same year he enrolled at Tuks for a BA(Ed Phys) with German as major and an HED. He was chairperson of the Physical Education Association, UP’s Music Association and the tour leader of UP’s Voorslag Concert Tour Group. He was the primarius of Sonop in his final year. 

He started teaching at Clapham High in 1954, and married Letitia Elise (Bobby) Hansen (his first wife, who passed away) at the end of that year. She studied for a combined Primary Education Diploma at UP, and later obtained a BA in English and Bible Studies with home study. André was a teacher for 27 years, and then served in the Directorate: Language Service of the Defence Force for 11 years, where he retired in 1991 as deputy director with the rank of colonel. 

Nine of his ten children also studied at UP. Treska studied BCur and runs her own home nursing business. Sandra studied BSc (Plant and Animal Sciences) and MEd (Grah) and is area operations manager of environmental education for South African National Parks. Ronel studied BMus and does freelance teaching and home schooling. Fiona studied BSc Home Economics and is a teacher. Bobbi studied BA at UP and obtained an honours degree at the University of Stellenbosch. She is a journalist. Chandré initially enrolled for a BA in Education and qualified with a degree in Marketing. Mädeli has a BA and is a part-time teacher. André junior studied BCom Law and is an entrepreneur. Lisel, the eldest, studied at UP for two years and obtained a BA Law from the University of Stellenbosch, where she also obtained an honours degree and an MA in Journalism. Currently, three grandchildren also study at UP: two in the Built Environment and one in Consumer Studies. 

André lives in a retirement village in Onrus in the Western Cape, where he keeps himself occupied writing stories, as well as his memoirs. 

Who’s where? 

  • Allen Swiegers (BCom Hons, 1983) is the Chief Operating Officer of Deloitte. He is highly satisfied with the company’s launching of The Deloitte Way – a culture-changing initiative in the company that has enabled it to refocus on people, quality and passion.
  • Leon Mouton (BA Hons, 1985) has been appointed as deputy director of the Management Development Centre in the business school of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). He was previously a senior superintendent in the South African Police Service and professional consultant for government and industry.
  • Mr Charl Wium (HED) has been the owner of Woodcon Carpenters since 2002. He was a teacher for approximately 18 years before he started his own business.
  • Dr Phil Paige Green (PhD Engineering Geology, 1989) is an internationally recognised engineering geologist specialising in road construction. He and his team at the CSIR are investigating more cost-effective and environmentally friendly natural products for constructing roads, as well as alternatives for gravel roads.
  • Charles Naudé (BSc Hons Geology, 1978; BSc Chemistry, 1981) has been appointed CEO of AfriSam. Charles has extensive experience in the building and construction materials manufacturing industry and has 27 years’ service at the company, where he held various positions. He also obtained an MBL degree from Unisa.
  • Johan Engels established himself as a sought-after international décor designer – initially for drama production, but later for ballet, and these days especially for opera. Johan will also design the décor for the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Boys in the Photograph, which will be presented in the Johannesburg Civic Theatre. He works in the leading opera houses in cities such as Athens, Cardiff, Chicago, Florence, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Monte Carlo, New York, Prague, Toronto, Vienna and Zürich.
  • Derrick Anderson (BA Drama, 2001) is an upcoming actor-singer who played the role of Keno in The Full Monty – the Broadway Musical, which was on stage at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre towards the end of 2008. Derrick was, amongst others, nominated for an FNB Vita Award for his role in The Westenders. He is originally from Durban.
  • Ntsikwane Raphesu (BA Drama, 2004) is a television and stage actress who recently also added singing to her career. Her album, Destiny, is produced by Zakhele Mabena of Open Mic and includes sounds of jazz, Afro-pop, gospel, hip-hop and R&B. After several theatre performances, Ntsikwane had television roles in Home Affairs II and Mindset.
  • Merryl Monard (MMus, 2008) is a former ATKV-Muziq overall winner (2007, flute). After completing her BMus, she went on to complete a Master of Music at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in the Netherlands before returning to South Africa. Here she was the principal flute for the hit musical The Lion King and also plays for the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.  She recently released her debut solo album, Monologue. It contains a selection of her favourite works for accompanied flute.
  • Trudi Kasselman (BSc, 2000) is an entrepreneur who started her own range of body products, called Ruah. Together with her mother-in-law, Rina, she harvested the first herbs in 2007 and started to formally market the product range in 2008.
  • Ben Schoeman (BMus, 2005, cum laude), acclaimed and well-known pianist and master’s student at UP, won the first prize and gold medal of the prestigious 57th Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) Annual Music Competition in London. Ben also won the ROSL Award for keyboard, the Liszt Society Prize and the Lorna Viol Memorial Prize for an outstanding overseas musician. Ben also studies in Imola, Italy, at the Accademia Pianistica Internazionel ‘Incontri col Maestro. He was the first South African to win the prestigious first prize and gold medal in the 2008 Unisa-Vodacom International Piano Competition.
  • Beau van Zyl (BA, HED) is an artist and owner of Gallery 35 studio in Pretoria. She also graduated as an interior decorator and eventually decided to turn her hobby as painter into a career by combining her talents for painting with her interior decorating skills.
  • Dr Mauritz van der Merwe (MSc Geology, 1966; BChD, 1983) completed his doctorate at Wits University and was part of a team who changed platinum mining on the Bushveld complex of platinum deposits from conventional underground mining to open-cast mining.  He worked at UP as a senior researcher and completed his BCom through Unisa before he decided to study dentistry full-time at UP at the age of 36. He had a dentistry practice in Port Elizabeth for 15 years before moving back to Pretoria and becoming involved in geology again. 
  • John Ntsepe (BMus, 2004) is a Johannesburg pianist who is making a name for himself. He studied under Ella Fourie and Lionel Bowman among others, and has also been studying under Katariina Liimantainen in Finland for the past six months.
  • Ernst Conradie (BSc Agric, 1986) has recently been appointed as technical advisor for Agri Veevoere in Bronkhorstspruit. He is responsible for the marketing of the company’s ruminant product range.
  • Petra Els (BA Ed) is a communication officer at the South African Police Service in Jeffrey’s Bay and is also well-known in the community.
  • Dr Zoli Grimbeek (BChD, 2007), dentist, recently joined a dentistry practice in Tzaneen. She finished her studies at UP in 2007, and completed her community year in Polokwane and Hoedspruit.