Honorary Members

Mr Willem du Toit (2019)
Dr Shafick Adams (2017);
Mrs Isa Thompson (2017);
Mr Siep Talma (2015) (In Memoria 1944-2016);
Mr Phil Hobbs (2015)(In Memoria.. 1954-2018);
Mr Ernst Bertram (2011) (In Memoria ..1951-2018);
Dr Johan van der Merwe (2011) (In Memoria… 2017);
Prof. Gerrit van Tonder (2009) (In Memoria…1953-2014);
Prof. Jopie Botha (2007);
Prof. Eberhard Braune (2005)

Recipients in the 90’s:
Mr A R Reynders; Dr G Tredoux; Prof B Th Verhagen; Dr K L Morton, Dr T S Kok (In Memoria)

Recipients in the 80’s:
Mr J R Vegter (In Memoria); Prof F D I Hodgson, Dr J F Enslin

In Memoria

Mr Philip Hobbs (1954-2018)

At his Memorial Service helt at Pheasant Hill in Pretoria on 2 May, it was as if Phil was smiling down from the surrounding trees where a number of birds gathered. There was a light breeze and the sun made its appearance after an unexpected shower on the way over. Very apt. Phil was a man of nature. He had a deep connection with the earth and as a born scientist, he understood and appreciated the complexity and perfection to be found in his natural surroundings, in rocks, in groundwater systems.

Not a man of many words but when Phil spoke, people listened, and when and what he ‘did’, people strived to learn from and emulate. He was a professional perfectionist in that he accepted no compromise in quality or on delivery.

Phil’s career at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Natural Resources and the Environment Research Area has many highlights. Dr Harrison Pienaar, his Group manager, offered deep insights into this exceptional man that researched and became a published expert, keeping his finger on the pulse of topical groundwater issues such as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), Shale Gas development, Surface –and-groundwater interaction, mining impacts on the environment, transboundary aquifers, to name but a few of the 19 research items posted on his profile together with 176 citations by his professional peer group. And that is only recorded statistics!  His family shared his enjoyment of new environments to explore, his free spirit and the special twinkle in his eye for the past year or two, his granddaughter.

Phil left such deep impressions in the sector that cannot possibly be given its due in a short paragraph.

He is greatly missed by all.

Mr Wilhelm Ernst Bertram (1951 – 2018)

Ernst had many interests, but the love for his Creator, his family, and everything groundwater took precedence in his life.
He shared his love and compassion for people (an avid Gidion) as eagerly, continuously and selflessly as he did his geohydrological knowledge.

His passion for groundwater was unwavering and he had been promoting the importance of groundwater and the development of groundwater and its wise use as a science within the Department Water Affairs (now Department Water and Sanitation) and also within the broader groundwater community, since 1973. He had been key in ensuring that groundwater is considered a reliable resource through his involvement in not only developing the National Groundwater Information System (NGIS) (a portfolio of projects designed to meet increasing demands for groundwater information in a rapidly changing water business environment) but also developing the concept of groundwater master plans that was embraced and rolled-out nationally. Always willing to share his knowledge, Ernst was well known and highly respected as mentor to young geohydrologists. He conceptualized many training initiatives through the DWS Training Academy and was always prepared to facilitate and assist in sector courses at the GWD or IGS. Condolences to his family (Mariane, children and grandchildren) was overwhelming and it was clear that Ernst touched so many people’s lives, even on his last day in hospital.

He is greatly missed by all.

Dr Johan van der Merwe (2017)

Mr Siep Talma (1944-2016)

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Siep Talma on Friday, 11 November 2016.
Siep was a true gentleman and guided many of us in the use of isotopes in groundwater studies.

Siep, a GWD Honorary Member and recipient of the Groundwater Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, started his career at CSIR (1968 – 2005) with a background of physics and mathematics. He was instrumental in setting up an isotope lab old style where they had to design and make instruments locally. Later he became involved with many environmental applications of isotopes all over the country. He therefore became acquainted with the basics of different disciplines: palaeoclimatology, plant physiology, oceanography, air pollution, geochemistry, archaeology etc. The main practical application of isotopes remained in hydrology however. Since 2006, he was consulting and collaborating with different institutions dealing with hydrochemistry and isotope hydrology.

Prof. Gerrit van Tonder (1953-2014)


Prof Gerrit Johannes van Tonder, born 9 March 1953, surely did not expect that his first position as Junior Lecturer at the University of the Free State in 1976 would’ve resulted in an illustrious academic career with 47 accredited Publications in Scientific Journals, attendance at 26 Conferences and author of more than 45 technical reports later. His many career highlights only accentuated the range and diversity of his scientific pursuits and the fact that this proclaimed Organic Gardener could also boast with more than 3000 rose bushes in his garden (more than 300 varieties), goes to show that his love and appreciation of the natural world was inherent.  The GWD was extremely proud to present this formerly awarded “best outstanding groundwater scientist in SA in 2005 (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF), with the 2009  GWD Honorary Award.

It was with great shock and disbelief that we learnt of the passing of our esteemed, much respected and beloved Prof. van Tonder. Prof van Tonder died of a sudden heart attack on 22 April 2014, leaving behind his beloved wife Fransie, and his children Sanri and Gideon. He was 61.The Groundwater Community is poorer without Prof van Tonder. He was instrumental in developning groundwater hydrology and the capacity we have today. Like so many others, I will miss his engagements on a variety of issues. Hamba Kahle - Dr Shafick Adams GWD Chair 2014


Dr. Thomas Steyn Kok (1919-2013)

In 1993, Dr Kok was the GWD recipient of the 4th Ground Water Medal for outstanding and significant contribution to the scientific understanding of groundwater in South Africa.

The Geological Survey of Namibia (GSN) recently decided to publish Dr. Kok’s thesis as a Memoir, given that the work on all the different formations in Namibia - their water-bearing properties; the respective targets for borehole siting; the yields and qualities that can be expected; and the success rates - is still regarded as fundamental information.

The greatest tribute comes from young hydrogeologists who had the privilege of working with him at some time - here one of them: Doc will be remembered with great fondness by the many geohydrologists that benefited from his knowledge and guidance. His deep laugh, the twinkle in his eye and his commitment to climbing the stairs every day on his way to his office in the Patterson Building were trademarks. He made a massive contribution to waste management in South Africa and helped much of the thinking still applied today. (Roger Parsons)


Mr Johannes Roelf Vegter (1925 –2016)

Mr Vegter passed away on the 6th of January 2016 in Pretoria at the age of 91.
As one of the Ground Water Division founding members (he was instrumental in forming this learned society), he served as the National Chairperson on the Ground Water Division Executive Committee from1978 to 1984; was awarded Honorary Membership shortly thereafter and became the recipient of the Groundwater Medal in the 1980's. He was widely acknowledged by his peers for his meritorious and outstanding service and dedication to furthering the science and technology of groundwater.
His unwavering passion and love for geohydrology was echoed in his continuous involvement in research projects long after his retirement. He will also be fondly remembered for his mentorship of generations of groundwater students and professionals alike and always had time to discuss the subject of groundwater at length.