The SAJBD Pays Tribute to Gerald Leissner

A South African pioneer, he made huge contributions to business in this country, particularly in the field of BEE.  A philanthropist, he was involved with and commitment to, overcoming poverty and inequality. 

Gerald played a prominent leadership role in several Jewish communal organisations,  including being a Chairman and President of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Joint Chairman Johannesburg IUA / UCF, Chairman of Beyachad, Trustee of the SA Holocaust Centre, Chairman of the SA Friends of the Hebrew University.  He was also Chairman of both Yeshiva College and Hebrew Congregation, and a founder member of the Sandton Shul. 

A visionary, Gerald created reality from his ideas.  On a business level, Gerald was involved in the property industry in South Africa, and his company, ApexHi grew to the second largest listed South African property company on the JSE, owning 235 commercial, retail and industrial properties, with a market capilisation in excess of R6 billion.  When BEE was adopted, Gerald, through ApexHi, shaped a model which created significant wealth to be distributed to institutions involved in a broad range of poverty alleviation activities in economic and social environments.  This model become a significant tool for redistribution of wealth. 

In addition to running this company, Gerald dedicated a large part of his life to helping organisations that fight to overcome poverty and inequality. These include the Central Johannesburg Partnership, the Inner City Housing Upgrading Trust, Foundation 2000 and the Jewish day schools, including Yeshiva College.

A gentle man, he was tactful, wise, principled and giving.  He could always be relied upon to get a job done. 

Gerald was recognised by former President Nelson Mandela for his outstanding leadership and for being in the forefront of the fight for human rights.

He will be sorely missed.  We send our condolences to his wife Shirley and children Wendy, Nicky, Jonty and Michael. 

Baruch Dayan Haemet.

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