In memoriam: Jeff Malherbe

July 1st, 2014
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By Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele

Former President of the Cape Law Society, Jeff Malherbe died in Cape Town on 10 May 2014 at the age of 85.

According to the Cape Law Society (CLS) Mr Malherbe matriculated at Robertson High School in the Western Cape, where his father was the headmaster. He then went on to study at the University of Cape Town where he obtained his BCom LLB degrees. He joined the firm Jan S de Villiers & Son (now Werksmans Inc) and became the senior partner and chairman of the firm.

In May 1968 he became a councillor of the Cape Law Society and from 1968 to 1972 he served as its President.  In 1972 he was elected President of the Association of Law Societies (the predecessor of the Law Society of South Africa). In 1981 he became the deputy chairman of the Board of Control of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund (AFF) and in 1990 he succeeded the late Eric Liefeldt and became the chairman of the Fund, a position he held until 1996.

In its tribute to Mr Malherbe, the CLS said that Mr Malherbe’s invaluable trade mark will continue to resonate within the profession for years to come. The CLS further stated that he took up the cause of university education as compulsory for entry to the profession, resulting in the BProc degree being instituted as the minimum qualification for admission. ‘With his able assistance and enthusiasm the foundation was laid for acceptance by the public that attorneys were, academically, as well qualified as advocates,’ it stated.

At the AFF, Mr Malherbe initiated and championed the cause of indigent black students as applicants for bursaries to assist them in their studies for legal degrees and at the time of his retirement more than 1 053 black candidates had received financial assistance from the Fund.

In the course of his professional career Mr Malherbe acted for many well-known public companies and became a long-serving director of companies like Naspers, Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery and Shoprite.

The finance executive at the AFF, Andrew Stanfield, has expressed the fund’s condolences. He said Mr Malherbe served on the Fund’s Board at various times, starting in 1970 while President of the CLS.  Mr Stanfield said that the AFF was deeply appreciative of Mr Malherbe’s input over the years.

Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele, nomfundo@derebus.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2014 (July) DR 7.     

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