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Celebrating Port Elizabeth’s Top 20 Most Famous Personalities


Port Elizabeth, now known as Gqeberha, has been the birthplace and nurturing ground for a plethora of individuals who have made significant contributions across various domains globally. This article pays tribute to 20 such personalities from sports, arts, business, and activism, showcasing their achievements and the indelible marks they have left on both local and international stages.


Siya Kolisi
Date of Birth: June 16, 1991
Siya Kolisi is a renowned South African rugby player and the first black man to captain the national team, the Springboks, in an 89-year history. Born in Zwide, Eastern Cape, his leadership was instrumental in South Africa’s victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Kolisi is admired for his talent on the field and his commitment to social justice off it, using his platform to fight against inequality and poverty.

Rassie Erasmus
Date of Birth: November 5, 1972
Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus is a former South African rugby player and the current Director of Rugby for South Africa. He was was born in Despatch, just a stones throw from Port Elizabeth. Can we claim him? We think so. Rassie played as a flanker and had a successful career domestically and with the national team, the Springboks. Post-retirement, Rassie transitioned into coaching, leading the Springboks to a Rugby World Cup victory in 2019 and 2023, earning respect for his innovative coaching techniques and leadership skills.

Schalk Burger
Date of Birth: April 13, 1983
Schalk Burger, born in Port Elizabeth, is a retired South African rugby player. A formidable flanker, Burger played for the Springboks and Western Province, earning various accolades, including the 2004 IRB Player of the Year. His aggressive playing style and resilience made him a fan favorite and a key player in the 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning South African team. Post-retirement, Burger has worked as a rugby commentator and analyst.

Joe van Niekerk
Date of Birth: April 7, 1980
Joe van Niekerk is a former South African rugby union player born on April 7, 1980, in Port Elizabeth. He played as a loose forward for the Springboks and various clubs, including the Lions and Western Province in South Africa, and Toulon in France. Van Niekerk was known for his athleticism and strength, contributing to his team’s successes domestically and internationally.

Brent Russell
Date of Birth: March 5, 1980
Brent Russell, born in Port Elizabeth, is a former South African rugby union player known for his versatility and electric playing style. Nicknamed “The Pocket Rocket” for his speed and agility, Russell played at fullback, wing, and scrum-half. He earned several caps for the Springboks and played for various clubs domestically and abroad. After retiring from professional rugby, Russell has largely stayed out of the public spotlight.

Mzwandile Stick
Date of Birth: May 14, 1984
Mzwandile Stick is a former South African rugby player and current coach, born in Port Elizabeth. He played as a winger and represented the South African Sevens team, where he achieved notable success. Following his playing career, Stick transitioned into coaching and has served as an assistant coach for the South African national team, the Springboks, bringing his expertise in backline play and attack to the coaching staff.

Mike Catt
Date of Birth: September 17, 1971
Mike Catt, born on September 17, 1971, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, is a former rugby union player who represented England. A versatile back, Catt was known for his strategic kicking and playmaking abilities. He played a significant role in England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup victory and later transitioned into coaching, contributing to the development of the sport post-retirement. 


Shaun Pollock
Date of Birth: July 16, 1973
Shaun Pollock, born in Port Elizabeth, is a retired South African cricketer and one of the game’s greatest all-rounders. A right-arm swing bowler and left-handed batsman, Pollock was renowned for his accuracy and reliability. He served as captain of the South African team and is one of the country’s leading wicket-takers. Post-retirement, Pollock has worked as a cricket commentator and analyst.

Marizanne Kapp
Date of Birth: January 4, 1990
Marizanne Kapp is a South African cricketer born on January 4, 1990, in Port Elizabeth. An all-rounder, she has been a core member of the South African national women’s cricket team, contributing with both bat and ball. Kapp is known for her consistent performances and has been featured in various domestic cricket leagues around the world, enhancing her reputation as a top female cricketer.

Colin Ingram
Date of Birth: July 3, 1985
South African cricketer Colin Ingram is a powerful left-handed batsman and occasional leg-spin bowler. Born in Port Elizabeth, he has represented his country in One Day Internationals and T20s. Ingram has also played for various domestic teams and in overseas leagues, including the Indian Premier League and England’s Vitality Blast, gaining a reputation for his aggressive batting style and versatility on the field.


Govan Mbeki
Date of Birth: July 9, 1910 – August 30, 2001
Govan Mbeki was a prominent anti-apartheid activist, politician, and father of former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Born in the Eastern Cape, he was a leading member of the African National Congress (ANC) and was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela at Robben Island for his activism. Mbeki was also an influential intellectual and writer, contributing significantly to the liberation struggle and South Africa’s political landscape.

Arts and Business:

Athol Fugard
Date of birth: June 11, 1932
South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director, Fugard is known for his work confronting the complexities of apartheid. His notable plays include “The Blood Knot,” “Master Harold…and the Boys,” and “The Road to Mecca.” Fugard’s works often explore racial tensions and the human spirit’s resilience. He has received numerous awards, including a Tony for Lifetime Achievement. His collaborations with black theatre artists during apartheid were significant in South African theatre. Fugard continues to influence the global stage with his powerful storytelling

Loyiso Bala
Date of Birth: September 22, 1979
Loyiso Bala is a renowned South African singer and songwriter, celebrated for his contributions to the R&B and gospel music scenes. Hailing from Uitenhage, he emerged as a versatile vocalist and has garnered acclaim both as a solo artist and as a member of the acclaimed Bala Brothers trio. With a career that spans multiple albums and numerous awards, Bala has distinguished himself through his soulful voice and impactful music. Beyond his artistic endeavors, he is also recognized for his charitable work and influence in the South African music industry.

Winston Ntshona
Date of birth: October 6, 1941
Winston Ntshona, born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was a celebrated playwright and actor, renowned for his collaborations with Athol Fugard and John Kani. Together, they created impactful plays like “Sizwe Banzi is Dead” and “The Island,” which highlighted the injustices of apartheid. Ntshona’s remarkable performances, especially on Broadway, earned him and Kani a joint Tony Award for Best Actor in 1975. His work extended to films, including notable roles in “The Wild Geese” (1978) and “Gandhi” (1982). Ntshona’s legacy as an artist and activist endures beyond his passing on August 2, 2018, commemorating his contributions to theater and the fight against apartheid.

Rob van Vuuren
Date of birth: September 26, 1976
Rob van Vuuren is a South African actor, comedian, and writer. He gained fame for his role in the comedy duo Corne and Twakkie and the satirical television show “The Most Amazing Show.” Van Vuuren has also made a name for himself in the South African film and television industry, with appearances in movies like “Shark Attack 3: Megalodon” and the series “Homeland.” He is known for his energetic humor and has won several awards for his stand-up comedy and performances. 

Roxy Ingram
Date of Birth: 1984
Roxy Ingram is a South African model and beauty queen. She rose to prominence after competing in the Miss South Africa pageant. Ingram has since worked as a model and brand ambassador. She is also recognized for her charity work and involvement in community projects. 

Shashi Naidoo
Date of Birth: November 4, 1980
Shashi Naidoo, born on November 4, 1980, in Port Elizabeth, is a South African actress, television presenter, model, and entrepreneur. She gained fame through her roles in South African television series and as a host for various events and shows. Naidoo is also known for her beauty and fashion endeavors, including her own modeling agency and involvement in charitable work.

Patrick Soon-Shiong
Date of Birth: July 29, 1952
Patrick Soon-Shiong is a South African-American transplant surgeon, billionaire businessman, bioscientist, and media proprietor. He made his fortune with the creation of innovative drugs and the sale of two pharmaceutical companies. Soon-Shiong is the inventor of the cancer drug Abraxane. He owns the Los Angeles Times and has a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers. Committed to healthcare advancements, he founded NantWorks, a network of healthcare, biotech, and artificial intelligence startups.

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