AlumNews and profiles
Welcome to AlumNews, a regular item in the TuksAlumni Newsletter in which you can read all about the latest achievements of fellow alumni. In this issue, the focus is on Dr Gustave de Muelenaere, who recently turned 100, and who is a pioneer in the development of private hospitals in Pretoria. You are welcome to submit contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your UP qualifications and the years in which you graduated.
- Dr Henk Gous (59) (BA, 1970; BD, 1974) studied at UP, the Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) and Unisa. He obtained an honour’s degree in Psychology and completed his theological studies simultaneously. He has been a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church Quellerina in Florida Glen, Roodepoort, since 1995. After the death of Janie, his 16-year-old son, it became Henk’s lifework to help others. He has already written two books to help parents timeously identify and deal with the reality of depression in their children.
- Johan van Walsem (46) (BEng Chemical, 1984; BEng(Hons), 1985; MEng, 1986) has joined Metabolix, Inc (NASDAQ: MBLX), a bioscience company focused on developing clean, sustainable solutions for plastics, chemicals and energy, as Vice-President of Commercial Development. He is responsible for the development of Metabolix’s business strategies and commercial development activities for its non-Telles activities, which are primarily crop and microbial fermentation technology programmes.
- Raymond L Chirwa (45) (MBA, 2003; BEng(Hons) Mechanical, 2004) completed his MBA at UP when he was a control and instrumentation manager at Eskom’s Duvha Power Station in 2003. Now he is the CEO of the largest coal terminal in the world.
- Christo Fabricius (53) (BSc, 1983; BSc(Hons), 1984) is campus principal of the George Campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) at Saasveld. He completed an MSc at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1989 and a PhD at the University of Cape Town in 1997, and spent a few years working in the UK before joining Rhodes University as professor of environmental science in 2007, when he joined the NMMU. He is passionate about the natural environment and lives in Wilderness.
- Ian Roothman (42) (BSc, 1991) is the founder and owner of the nutrition company, The Nutrition Lab, having developed and formulated The Nutrition Lab brand of supplements. After completing his degree, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry for five years as an ethical representative. In 1999, Ian started his own business, known today as The Nutrition Lab: Metabolic Assessment Technologies-Rx (www.mat-rx.com). Ian has been actively involved in the health and fitness industry for 15 years.
- Dr Mathilda Mostert (31) (PhD Food Science, 2007) of Tzaneen is an analyst and consultant in edible oils – one of only a few specialists in her field. She studied food science at the University of Stellenbosch, and obtained her PhD at UP while specialising in avocado oil. She followed this up with a postdoctoral study on biodiesel. In 2006, she was selected as the best graduate student in South Africa in the food sciences and received the prestigious Koeppen Memorial Bursary.
- Jana Schlebusch (26) (BCom, 2004; BCom(Hons) Marketing, 2005) is the general manager of McCarthy Lexus, Lynnwood, in Pretoria. Her love of all things automotive goes back many years. After completing her studies at UP, it was natural for her to look to the automotive industry for a job. She held several positions in the McCarthy Group before being promoted to general manager of McCarthy Lexus, Lynnwood.
- Lerato Mokhatla (28) (BCom, 2003) has given up a career in accounting and half her usual salary to teach Mathematics and English to East Rand township children. She was born and bred in Klerksdorp and recently decided to go back to UP to study educational psychology. She spent the year teaching Mathematics to Grade 8 and 10 pupils at Thokoza's Tiisetsong Secondary School. For her, the satisfaction she gains from making a difference in teenagers’ lives is more of a reward than a high-flyer career and bigger salary.
- Amanda Venter (49) (BJur, 1982) has been the magistrate of the De Aar region since 2003. She was recently selected as one of six South African women who were invited to the USA by the American government to participate in a three-week leadership programme. A number of celebrities, politicians and other people have attended the International Visitor Leadership Programme, which has been in existence for more than 70 years.
- Cuthbert Mamabolo (30) (BSc Agric, 2002; MSc Agric, 2008; Postgrad Dip Business Admin, 2008) has been appointed as technical marketing manager at Bedson Africa and will be responsible for the Feed Division’s products, which include mycotoxin management, gut health and in-feed performance enhancers. Cuthbert holds an MSc (Agric) from the University of Pretoria and a postgraduate diploma in Business Administration (PDBA) from GIBS. Bedson Africa (Pty) Ltd is a market leader in the supply and marketing of top-quality animal health and production enhancement products.
- Tony da Costa (32) (BSc Agric, 1999) has recently been selected as Gauteng’s Young Farmer of the Year, and is now a finalist for the national award.
- Prof Louise Whittaker (40) (PhD Information Science, 2001) is the director of research at Wits Business School (WBS). She lectures in information systems, research methodology and philosophy of management at the business school. She has worked for WBS since 1998, and was promoted to the position of research director in May 2009.
- Pierre Vercueil (59) (BSc Agric, 1972) is chairperson of the Board of Suidwes Group of Companies.
- Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (43) (BCom Agric Econ, 1990; BCom(Hons), 1991; MCom, 1992; PhD Agric, 1995) has recently been appointed as the new principal of the Potchefstroom Campus of the Northwest University (NWU). He was dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State from 2003. Herman is an internationally recognised agricultural economist and academic. He serves on a number of national and international committees in his field, and has acted as consultant for various organisations, including the World Bank. He was also a member of the Food Price Monitoring Committee that was appointed by the Minister of Agriculture in 2003.
- Hettie Smith (38) (BA, 1993; HED, 1994; BA(Hons) Geography, 1995) was, as far as is known, the youngest female principal of a primary school with more than 1 000 pupils when she was appointed school principal in November 2009. She wants to create a child-friendly environment where pupils can be taught in well-equipped classrooms. As deputy principal at Laerskool Theresapark, she implemented a unique class assistant system that she also wants to phase in at her new school.
- John Rabie (51) (BSc Agric, 1980; MBA, 1985) was selected as Game Farmer of the Year for 2009 by the Game Industry SA. After completing his BSc, he joined a pharmaceutical business, completed his MBA, and held various management posts locally and overseas. When he was sent to the company’s head office in New York, he decided to exchange life in the fast lane for a farm in the bushveld.
- Andries Nel (44) (BLC, 1993) was appointed as Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in 2009 and has been a Member of Parliament since 1994. Previously, he worked for Lawyers for Human Rights as a coordinator, as well as in several positions in the ANC.
- Hannelie Bekker (40) (BA, 1990; BA(Hons) English, 1991) is a TV programming guru who recently formed the Johannesburg-based consultancy Octant. She has extensive experience as a strategist and developer of programme content in demand that increases profitability at companies such as the SABC and Telkom Media. She was previously General Manager: Entertainment at Telkom Media.
- Prof Steven Brown (61) (BSc, 1976), Director of the Centre of Excellence for Invasive Plant Biology and lecturer in zoology at the University of Stellenbosch, is the recipient of the gold medal for 2009 from the Zoological Society of Southern Africa. His research has, among others, led to the publication of more than 230 scientific articles in a number of leading international and national journals. Steven joined the University of Stellenbosch in 2001.
- Cobus Swanepoel (37) (BMus, 1994; BMus(Hons), 1995) is an international concert cellist who lives in Switzerland, where he is a professor at the Zurich University for the Arts. He also has a concert career, and often performs in Europe and elsewhere. After his studies at UP, he went to Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1996, where he furthered his studies. Cobus was invited to perform with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the annual Huberte Rupert Memorial Concert in the Western Cape in December 2009.
- Leon Spamer (42) (BCom Human Resources, 1992; BCom(Hons), 1993) is the brand manager for the oncology portfolio of Astra Zeneca. He previously worked for the University of Pretoria’s Institute of Pathology where he was involved in human resources, finance and logistics.
- Dr PG du Plessis (75) (BA, 1955) is a well-known writer in South Africa. When he was younger, he was, among other things, a director at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), assistant chief editor of Die Transvaler and editor of Hoofstad, before he became a full-time writer, farming and writing on his farm Rysmierbult. In 1973, he won the Hertzog Prize for two dramas: Siener van die Suburbs and Plaston: DNS-kind. This versatile writer has produced a great number of works, which range from collections of stories and essays, dramas, and television and film scripts, to full-length screenplays and novels.
- Dr Chrisna du Plessis (MArch, 1999), principal researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has been awarded a PhD by the University of Salford in the United Kingdom and an honorary doctorate by Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. She was awarded the honorary doctorate for her earnest and practice-based research, information and development work, in which she has highlighted conditions in the Third World in particular.
Pioneer alumnus turns 100
Dr Gustave de Muelenaere, an alumnus of the University of Pretoria and the doctor who was instrumental in developing private hospitals in Pretoria, celebrated his 100th birthday on 5 March this year.
Dr De Muelenaere is actually Belgian by birth. He was raised, became a surgeon, married and had all twelve his children, one of whom died at a very young age, in Belgium. It was only after World War II that he left Belgium to go to America. When he arrived in America, Dr De Muelenaere could not speak a word of English, but he learnt it within a month. In 1952, he immigrated to South Africa with his family. Despite decades of experience as a surgeon in Belgium, he had to study for another three years at the University of Pretoria before he was allowed to practice in South Africa.
While he was studying, he had the Astrid Clinic built in Schoeman Street. Dr De Muelenaere says he wanted to develop clinics because there were very few private hospitals at that time. He initially registered the clinic as a private hotel and planned to convert it into a hospital once he was allowed to practice as surgeon. Eventually, the clinic opened its doors in 1961.
Dr De Muelenaere went on to open the Muelmed Hospital in 1986, when he was already 76 years old, and the Pretoria Heart Hospital in 1993. He only retired at the age of 80. His wife, Rita, died in 2008 at the age of 96. They had been married for 73 years. Most of their children are also in the medical field – there are two oncologists, two general practitioners, a surgeon, a paediatrician, an orthodontist, a pharmacist, an orthopedist and a dietician. One of their children became a priest.
In 2001, the Pretoria Chamber of Business selected Dr De Muelenaere as Pretorian of the Year.