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South African Celebrities Born and Bred in Germiston


For a place with a small-town vibe Germiston has spawned more than its fair share of famous people.  Some are activists who jeopardised their personal freedom to help create a more just and equitable South Africa.

Others are vibrant, bubbly personalities who have blown us all away with their stellar performances on TV, radio and the silver screen.

Our city on the East Rand may not be an economic hub, vital port or the Tavern of the Seas but it is the equivalent of the online slots at the casino that always have a few dazzling gems hidden on the reels.

Who are the standout celebrities born and raised in Germiston?  Let’s take a look at four Germistonians who have made a major impact in their chosen careers:

Jeannie D

Jeannie de Gouveia aka Jeannie D is arguably one of South Africa’s most famous personalities.  She waltzed into most our lives as a radio host on Good Hope FM.  Her distinctive voice, way with words and ability to tackle the most contentious issues with fairness and unanimity made her an overnight radio sensation.

From radio the young Jeannie made the great leap to TV where she wowed with her stunning good looks and relaxed and natural disposition.  Her time with Top Billing, Afternoon Express and later the Top Travel Show catapulted her into the realm of super stardom.

Who can forget her interviews with the big names of Hollywood like Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Spacey - interviews that had the stars completely captivated with her sincerity and charm.  Or the way she took us all along with her to some of the most remote and exotic travel destinations on earth!

From the small screen Jeannie stepped up to the silver screen where she played the part of a bank assistant in Mercenary for Justice, a feature film shot in Cape Town starring Steven Seagal.  She also co-hosted the annual South African Film and Televisions Awards (SAFTAs).

The lovely Jeannie D may have departed our TV screens but the effervescent 37-year-old from Germiston is now a budding entrepreneur with her own gin distillery and Swiss manufactured perfume.

Bertha Gxowa

Bertha Gxowa spent her life fighting for freedom.  As a young woman just out of school she joined the Defiance Campaign, a campaign that demanded the right for black people to travel freely in their own country.

Her defiance of the apartheid pass laws landed the young 18-year-old in jail but even that did not deter the determined young woman from Thokoza from following her heart.  On her release from prison Bertha became an active member of the ANC Youth League.

She was also a founding member of the Federation of South African Women, a group that led the now legendary 1956 Woman’s March to the Union Buildings in protest of the pass laws. Her election to the provincial executive of the ANC and her involvement in the march got her into trouble with the law yet again - and this time she was banned for 11 years under the Suppression of Communism Act.

Bertha spent much of her time working on community upliftment projects until the unbanning of the ANC in 1990.  She then became involved in re-organising the Katlehong branch in Germiston, a job she did with her usual enthusiasm and aplomb.

Her success at grass roots was emulated in the higher echelons of power.  She became the national treasurer and chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in Gauteng.

She also became a Member of Parliament - a fitting tribute for an extraordinary woman born and raised in Germiston.  Bertha Gxowa, the fearless freedom fighter and campaigner for women’s rights, passed away in 2010.

Ernie Els

With his laid-back demeanour, easy golf swing and affable smile Ernie Els is one of South Africa’s favourite sportsmen.  The Big Easy, who hails from Lambton in Germiston, is also one of the most successful professional golfers the country has ever produced.

Under the watchful eyes of his dad Neels, Els learnt the finer points of bogeys, birdies and eagles on the Germiston Golf Course.  By the time he had reached his 14 th birthday Ernie had a scratch handicap - a harbinger of things to come for the tall, lanky lad.

Today Ernie Els boasts 71 career wins, four of which are majors.  He is one of only six golfers ever to have won two British Open Championships and two US Open tournaments.

The former world number one from Germiston has bagged the World Match Play Championship an astonishing seven times - more than any other golfer in the history of the sport - and has deservedly taken his place in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Els has banked more than $49 million on the PGA Tour and over €28,6 million on the European Tour.  He has also coined it in terms of sponsorship deals.

Ernie Els the golfer is a hugely successful golf course designer and winemaker and he owns homes in the UK, the USA and South Africa - not bad for a guy from Germiston?

Thembsie Matu

Thembsie Matu is an actress, stand up comedian and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Born in Katlehong, the darling of South African TV has featured in a litany of local dramas and soaps that vary from Tshisa, The Lab and Rhythm City to Queen, Zero Tolerance and Zone 14. Matu has the inimitable ability to add humour to virtually every role she plays, an ability that has spurred her on to trying her hand at stand-up comedy.

The veteran actress is probably best known for her role as Petronella in the TV show Queen, a quirky and often hilarious personality who has choice words for her wayward hubby and is always willing to give a bit of ‘interesting’ advice.

Thembsie Matu has a big-hearted personality that everyone adores.  Along with her broad smile, contagious laugh and awesome talent, the fabulous femme fatale from Germiston credits her stellar success to her work ethic and positive can-do attitude!