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The 10 Greatest South Africans of all time

The 10 greatest South Africans as nominated by the South African public were revealed Sunday night on SABC 3's Great South Africans Top 100 show. They are (alphabetically): Dr Christiaan Barnard, F W De Klerk, Mahatma Ghandi, Nkosi Johnson; Winnie Madikizela Mandela; Nelson Mandela; Thabo Mbeki; Gary Player; Jan Smuts and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In a surprise departure from the BBC format of the popular series, Nelson Mandela was declared the Greatest South African of all; throwing the race wide open as the public are now being asked to vote for a winner from the other 9 Great South Africans who they believe most deserving of a place in history next to Nelson Mandela.

Every Sunday, for the next nine weeks SABC 3 will broadcast a 30-minute documentary on each of the Great South Africans. A celebrity 'champion' whose role it is to convince the public why their candidate should win will present each documentary. On December 9th, the champions will engage in a live studio debate after which the votes will be counted and the winner declared.

The Top 9 champions and their candidates are:
Casey B Dolan: Dr Christiaan Barnard
Phat Joe: F W De Klerk
Brenda Kali: Mahatma Ghandi
Gcina Mhlope: Nkosi Johnson
Fatima Meer: Winnie Madikizela Mandela
Bob Mabena: Thabo Mbeki
Kass Naidoo: Gary Player
John Robbie: Jan Smuts
Zola: Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Commenting on the results, Anant Singh, Executive Producer said: "I don't believe anyone would dispute the fact that Nelson Mandela is the Greatest South African of all time. In terms of this process he received tens of thousands of votes more than his nearest nominee and our challenge was to ensure that we acknowledge the depth of greatness we have as South Africans. This way we can focus on the merits of the other nine and the public can vote for who they think should stand next to Nelson Mandela."

The voting lines opened straight after the show last night and the public can now vote for their Greatest South African by calling 086 22 33 123, or by sms'ing the name of their candidate to 33 123, or by voting on the Great South African website at

The Top 100 list of Great South Africans had many surprises, offering fascinating insight into what people regard as greatness. Added Singh, "It is important to remember that this list is a snapshot of a moment in time when South Africans nominated their greats. It's unique, it's disputable, but also fascinating."

Disgraced cricket captain Hansie Cronje was in 11th spot and just missed out making it into the Top 10; Charlize Theron was the highest placed actress on the list (#12), Brenda Fassie the highest placed musician (#17) and Mark Shuttleworth the highest placed businessman (#18). JRR Tolkien - who spent nearly all of his life in the UK - was the highest placed author on a list (#35) that excluded Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee. The only artist on the list was JH Pierneef (#99). The two children on the list were Hector Peterson (#85) killed in the 1976 Soweto uprising and the late HIV/Aids activist Nkosi Johnson who made the top 10.

Nobel laureates in the Top 100 were Nelson Mandela, F.W. De Klerk, Archbishop Tutu, Nadine Gordimer (#80) and Albert Luthuli (#41). The only beauty queen was Basetsana Kumalo (#74), while Zola was the highest ranked television personality (#21).

Husbands and wives (some now former) nominated, were Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela Mandela who both made the Top 10; Walter and Albertina Sisulu and Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. Father and son nominations went to the current South African president, Thabo Mbeki and his father Govan Mbeki.

Only 32 people who made the final 100 are deceased as voters have clearly favoured recent heroes and icons in South African history. Those who have been dead the longest, are Jan van Riebeeck and Shaka Zulu.

Entertainment was pretty high up too, with Afrikaans crooner, Steve Hofmeyer in at #32 and radio DJ, Jeremy Mansfield, at #53.

The first documentary to be broadcast on Sunday 3 October at 18:00 is a profile of legendary golfer Gary Player. At the end of the broadcast voting positions for the Top nine will be revealed.

Great South Africans is produced by Videovision Entertainment for SABC 3 and sponsored by South African Breweries.

The Top 100 Great South Africans (as voted for by the South African public):

1. Nelson Mandela - indisputably the Greatest South Afrian of all time.

Nominees 2 to 10 in alphabetical order:

2. Dr Christiaan Barnard
3. F W De Klerk
4. Mahatma Ghandi
5. Nkosi Johnson
6. Winnie Madikizela Mandela
7. Thabo Mbeki
8. Gary Player
9. Jan Smuts
10. Archbishop Desmond Tutu

No's 11 to 100:

11. Hansie Cronje
12. Charlize Theron
13. Steve Biko
14. Shaka Zulu
15. Mangosuthu Buthelezi
16. Tony Leon
17. Brenda Fassie
18. Mark Shuttleworth
19. Hendrik Verwoerd
20. Chris Hani
21. Zola
22. Patricia de Lille
23. Johnny Clegg
24. Helen Suzman
25. Eugene Terreblanche
26. Pieter Dirk Uys (Evita Bezuidenhout)
27. Paul Kruger
28. Dr Anton Rupert
29. Jonty Rhodes
30. Leon Schuster
31. Oliver Tambo
32. Steve Hofmeyer
33. Walter Sisulu
34. Cyril Ramaphosa
35. JRR Tolkien
36. Beyers Naude
37. Ernie Els
38. Miriam Makeba
39. Patrice Motsepe
40. Trevor Manuel
41. Albert Luthuli
42. Robert Sobukwe
43. Tokyo Sexwale
44. Danny Jordaan
45. Fatima Meer
46. Ahmed Kathrada
47. Joe Slovo
48. Natalie du Toit
49. Jomo Sono
50. Francois Pienaar
51. John Kani
52. Penny Heyns
53. Jeremy Mansfield
54. Lucas Radebe
55. Mamphela Ramphele
56. Cecil John Rhodes
57. Albertina Sisulu
58. Aggrey Klaaste
59. Alan Paton
60. Harry Oppenheimer
61. Zackie Achmat
62. Dr Khumalo
63. Jan van Riebeeck
64. Bruce Fordyce
65. Enoch Sontonga
66. Zola Budd
67. Sol Plaatje
68. Dr Danie Craven
69. Alan Boesak
70. Felicia Mabuza-Suttle
71. Yvonne Chaka Chaka
72. Baby Jakes Matlala
73. Kaizer Motaung
74. Basetsana Khumalo
75. Antjie Krog
76. Dullah Omar
77. Mandoza
78. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
79. Raymond Ackerman
80. Nadine Gordimer
81. D F Malan
82. F van Zyl Slabbert
83. General JBM Hertzog
84. Papwa Sewgolum
85. Hector Petersen
86. William Smith
87. P W Botha
88. Hugh Masekela
89. Bulelani Ngcuka
90. Jody Scheckter
91. George Bizos
92. Mbongeni Ngema
93. PJ Powers
94. Mimi Coertse
95. Mrs Ples
96. Abdullah Ibrahim
97. Govan Mbeki
98. Jamie Uys
99. JH Pierneef
100. Athol Fugard

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