Derek Hanekom’s biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroSouth African politician
Is Politician
From South Africa
Type Politics

13 January 1953, Cape Town

Age67 years

Derek Andre Hanekom (born 13 January 1953, Cape Town) is the South African Minister of Tourism serving from 26 May 2014. He previously served as Minister of Science and Technology from October 2012 – 2014. He was Deputy Minister of Science and Technology having served under the then-Presidents Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki, and current President Jacob Zuma in May 2009. He has a strong African National Congress (ANC) history having served three years in prison for the work he did for the ANC during apartheid, with his wife Dr. Trish Hanekom who served three years for her involvement.
He is also a former Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, having served under the Mandela administration. Hanekom’s tenure as Minister of Land Affairs was reflective of his career in the anti-apartheid NGO sector and he was selected by former President Nelson Mandela partly because of his ability as an Afrikaner to negotiate with white landowners. Hanekom’s tenure as minister was marked by an affinity for redistribution as opposed to retribution, and rights as opposed to property. Some have cited a strong contrast with his successor in the ministry during the Mbeki administration, Thoko Didiza.
Hanekom is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee – and has been since 1994 – and the NEC deployee to the Western Cape – the only province the ANC does not govern.

Personal life

Hanekom was born in Cape Town, South Africa on 13 January 1953.

He spent his school career in Cape Town, attending the German Primary School and then matriculating from prominent Afrikaans school, Jan van Riebeeck Secondary in 1970. Hanekom went on to complete his compulsory conscription in the South African Defence Force. Thereafter, Hanekom travelled abroad where he worked for various organisations including working on farms, factories and building sites. He then returned to South Africa in his early twenties where he continued farming.

Working the land, Hanekom was a dairy, poultry, and vegetable farmer from 1978 – 1983.

Hanekom is married to academic Dr Patricia (Trish) Hanekom.

Struggle history

Hanekom was arrested in 1976, regarded the start of his political career.

The then-23-year-old Hanekom was arrested for participating in peaceful candlelight demonstration at John Vorster Square, the Police Headquarters in Johannesburg. Four years later, in 1980, Hanekom and Patricia joined the liberation party the ANC, conducting underground activity while continuing to farm on a smallholding in Magaliesburg. Patricia and Hanekom fed information to the mother body ANC such as the apartheid defence force’s attempts to overthrow the Mozambican government through the rebel movement, Renamo.

Both were then arrested – Hanekom’s second – in 1983. They were initially charged with High Treason, the worst offence against the State, but the charge was subsequently reduced because of the international sensitivity of the case.

After spending three years in prison, Hanekom went on to work with the trade union movement in Johannesburg. Patricia was released a year later, in 1987 but was subsequently deported to Zimbabwe, where the couple went into exile for three years. During this period, Hanekom served as the co-ordinator of the Popular History Trust in capital city Harare.

After three years in exile and after the apartheid government unbanned political organisations, Hanekom returned to South Africa in 1990 to work at the headquarters of the ANC, where he was responsible for policy formulation on land and agricultural matters during the period of negotiations prior to the first democratic elections in 1994.


Under founding democratic President Nelson Mandela, Hanekom was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs from 1994 to 1999. In his capacity, Hanekom piloted various reform bills through Parliament which aimed to redress the injustices and inequities caused by apartheid laws and the 1913 Land Act. Much of the South African land reform legislation was initiated, drafted, and enacted during Hanekom’s term. This legislation laid the foundation for land reform in the post-apartheid era.

1999 – 2004

During this period, Hanekom served as a Member of Parliament on various Parliamentary Committees.

2004 – 2014

In April 2004, Hanekom was appointed Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, a position he served in until he was promoted in October 2012 to Minister of Science and Technology. As Minister, Hanekom served until 25 May 2014 before moving his portfolio to Minister of Tourism.


  • Minister Hanekom is a member of the ANC’s: National Executive Committee since 1994; National Working Committee; Chairperson of the National Disciplinary Committee; NEC Convener of the Western Cape
  • He also serves as the Deputy Chairperson of the Board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
  • “AKF welcomes new Board members | AHMED KATHRADA FOUNDATION”. Retrieved 2016-03-02.