Media Statements

The Cape Town City Hall will next week play host to the 2013 Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards. This prestigious annual event, to be held on Tuesday 5 November, was established by The South African Institute for Advancement seven years ago to acknowledge, celebrate and honour those whose personal giving has contributed towards sustainable social change in South Africa.

Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow says Cape Town’s grand old lady is a fitting location to thank exceptional individuals who actively work to improve the lives of others. “The City Hall will be forever famous as the spot from which Nelson Mandela gave his first address on the day he was released from prison in 1990. As he stood on the balcony, Mandela pledged to place the remaining years of his life in our collective hands. It was a declaration of trust and a call to serve which is why we believe this is the right place to honour those South Africans who have answered his call,” explains Gastrow.

Seventy-three philanthropists from very different backgrounds have so far been honoured with Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards, including the likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; the Ackerman family; National Treasure and community worker Grace Masuku; 13-year Jordan van der Walt whose ‘Just One Bag’ campaign has fed over a million school children; and Alice Wamundiya, a former car guard from Rwanda who established an organisation to provide tertiary education for refugees.
Inyathelo Programme Director Gabrielle Ritchie says the Inyathelo awardees resist any kind of categorisation. “They come from the most diverse walks of life, range in age from 8 to 85, and have tremendously varied reasons for why they serve the causes that they do. Some simply say that they saw something that wasn’t right, rolled up their sleeves and set about finding a solution, often in the face of overwhelmingly difficult circumstances. Feeding schemes, health clinics, education programmes, art projects, childcare facilities, community support groups and so many more innovative and remarkable projects have been founded and supported by the Inyathelo Awardees,” says Ritchie.  

Refiloe Seseane, a past awardee and former TV soap star who started the organisation 18twenty8 to empower young women, will host next week’s gala event, and Jonathan Schrire, another past awardee who brought two disparate communities together to build thousands of houses in Vrygrond, Cape Town, will be the guest speaker. Gastrow says it promises to be a truly magical evening, full of fabulous food, music, entertainment and celebration. “Without giving too much away, we have a talented group of 40 young violinists performing for our 500 guests as well as the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Zip Zap Circus! We had well over a hundred nominations this year so our independent review panel has had a tough time deciding on the awards. I hope that the passion, commitment, generosity and foresight demonstrated by all our awardees will inspire others to go out and make a difference,” says Gastrow.

Ritchie adds that Inyathelo is always deeply moved by the many nominations they receive. “We are very aware that we are able to acknowledge only a very small percentage of the people who are working on a daily basis, often at great personal cost, to improve the lives of others. We know from the nominations we receive and the work we do in the philanthropic sector that we could have a weekly award and we still would not come close to acknowledging the great multitude of philanthropic work that is on-going in our country. Individual giving is now the biggest source of donor money in South Africa and philanthropists can play an important role in providing innovative solutions to our many social problems,” explains Ritchie.

For mre information about the Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards and past awardees, please visit