Willie Esterhuyse

IntroProfessor of philosophy and business ethics at the University of Stellenbosch
Is Philosopher 
From South Africa 
Type Philosophy 
Birth 19 August 1936 
, Laingsburg, South Africa
Age:84 years
Star sign Leo

Willem Petrus “Willie” Esterhuyse (born 19 August 1936) is an emeritus professor of philosophy and business ethics at the University of Stellenbosch, a columnist and critic of the system of Apartheid.

Early life

Willem Petrus Esterhuyse was born in 1936 in Laingsburg, Western Cape. He married Annemarie Esterhuyse, née Barnard, a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Stellenbosch. They have two daughters and four sons.

Academic career

Esterhuyse studied from 1958 to 1964 at the University of Stellenbosch, gaining his doctorate. He was from 1965 to 1967 a senior lecturer at University College in Durban. Then he was until 1974 a senior lecturer in Philosophy at the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). In 1974 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch. He has also been associated with the Graduate School of Business of the Stellenbosch University as well as University of Cape Town – UCT where he taught business ethics.

Journalism career

Esterhuyse was also a longtime columnist for the financial magazine, F & T Weekly, Die Burger, Beeld and Die Volksblad on ethical and socio-political issues. He has many articles written about South African politics and was a critic of apartheid.

Business background

He served as a director of various institutions e.g. presently

  • Barinor Holdings Ltd (chairperson)
  • Sanlam Demutualisation Trust (trustee)
  • Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) (trustee)

and previously:

  • Murray & Roberts
  • Metropolitan Holdings
  • Medi-Clinic
  • Plexus
  • Stellenbosch Vineyards

Esterhuyse was portrayed by William Hurt in the 2009 film Endgame.


His awards includes the Stals Prize for Philosophy by the Academy of Arts and Science 1984. In 2003 the University of Stellenbosch awarded him an honorary doctorate. He was awarded The Order of Luthuli in Silver by the President of South Africa.

Other awards are:

  • Sunday Times Prestige Prize for Political Literature (1981)
  • Visiting Professor of the Year, UCT Graduate School of Business (1997)
  • NP van Wyk Louw Medal, SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (1999)
  • Leon Fox Community Relations Award
  • Institute for Personnel Management, Presidential Award (1999)
  • Professor of the Year (2000-2001), University of Nijenrode, The Netherlands (2001)
  • Medal of Honour, Former Student Council Chairpersons, Stellenbosch University (2002)