About the Wits Foundation UK

The Wits Foundation UK was established as a charitable organisation in the United Kingdom in support of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits University).  It is a separate legal entity from the University and is one of the organisations worldwide that raises funds for the University. The registration details of the Wits Foundation UK are as follows.

Charity registration number 1087539, charity registration date 13 July 2001
Company incorporation number 04217424, company incorporation date 15 May 2001
Registered Office 130a High Street, Crediton, Devon EX17 3LQ
Governing Document  Memorandum and Articles of Association


Patron & Trustees

Sir Sydney Kentridge KCMG, QC


Sir Sydney Kentridge KCMG, QC is the Patron of the Wits Foundation UK. A Wits alumnus, (BA 1942 and Hon LLD 2000), Sir Sydney practised law first in South Africa and later in the United Kingdom in a career of almost 60 years. He retired in 2013. After serving in the Second World War, he studied at Exeter College, University of Oxford and was awarded a first-class BA in Jurisprudence in 1948. As an advocate in South Africa he was part of the defence team of Nelson Mandela and others in the Treason Trial and he led the inquest into the death in detention of Stephen Biko. Sir Sydney was a Judge of the first Constitutional Court of South Africa after the country became a democracy in 1994. In the United Kingdom he is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading barristers. Sir Sydney is the recipient of numerous honours and awards including Knight Commander of the British Order of St Michael and St George (1999) and a Supreme Counsellor of the South African Order of the Baobab in Gold (2008). A founding Trustee of the Wits Foundation UK, Sir Sydney became its Patron in 2014.

William (Bill) Frankel, OBE

Chairman & Trustee

William (Bill) Frankel, OBE is the Chairman of the Wits Foundation UK. Bill is a retired partner of a prominent firm of solicitors in London. A graduate of UCT, Bill qualified as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England in June 1970. His areas of specialisation in practice were in international corporate and commercial law, international trusts, tax and charities. Between 1966 and 1990 he was the secret legal consultant (“Mr X”) to Canon Collins’ International Defence and Aid Fund responsible for the funding of the legal costs of virtually every political trial in South Africa. He was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Millennium honours list for services to human rights. He is Trustee and Chair of numerous charitable organisations both in the UK and South Africa. In 2007 he was appointed Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of SA for services to science education and research. In 2014 he was awarded UCT’s Vice Chancellor’s silver medal for services to human rights, constitutionalism, education and philanthropy in SA and elsewhere. In 2015, the South African Government announced that Bill is to be awarded the Order of Luthuli (Silver).

Professor Zeblon Vilakazi


Prof. Zeblon Zenzele Vilakazi is Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University. Before that he was Wits’ DVC Research and Wits showed much growth in research output during his term as DVC Research. He is also a Wits alumnus, having obtained his PhD from Wits in 1998 under the supervision of the late Professor J Sellschop, who also served as DVC: Research at Wits. With his PhD in nuclear physics, he was then awarded a prestigious National Research Foundation post-doctoral fellowship at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. Ever since then Prof V has maintained strong ties with CERN. After his postdoc he accepted an academic post at UCT in 1999 where he was instrumental in establishing South Africa’s first experimental high-energy physics research group focusing on development of the High-level Trigger for the CERN-ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. To this day he holds an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Physics at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Professor Colin Bundy


Professor Colin Bundy is a Wits alumnus (BAHons 1967) and former Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal (1997 – 2001). He retired in 2010 from his position as the first Principal of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. Colin had moved to the UK to become Director and Principal of the School of Oriental and African Studies (2001–2006) and during that time also became Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of London (2003–2006). Prior to joining Wits he had been Director of the Institute for Historical Research (1992–1994) and Vice Rector (1994-1997) at the University of the Western Cape. Colin came to prominence as an historian in South Africa with the publication of The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry in 1988. Colin continues to teach and publish and reaches a wider audience through his popular works such as Short-Changed? South Africa since 1994 published in 2014. In addition to his BAHons (Wits), he holds a BA from the University of Natal and an MPhil and DPhil from the University of Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College and later a Beit Senior Research Scholar at St Antony’s.

Professor Adam Habib


Professor Adam Habib is a Wits alumnus (BAHons 1989) and former Vice-Chancellor and Principal (2013-2020).  As of January 2021 he is Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Prior to joining Wits he was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) which he joined in 2007 and held two different DVC portfolios over two periods of office. He worked at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as an Executive Director from 2004 – 2007 and as Professor of the School of Development Studies at the University of Natal from 2001 – 2003. From 1989 – 2001, he served in various capacities at the University of Durban-Westville. A professor of Political Science, Adam is a renowned particularly in South Africa as a public and media commentator. Adam’s book, South Africa’s suspended revolution – Hopes and prospects, published in 2013, has reached a wide lay audience and has been translated into several South African languages. He serves on numerous external boards, both in South Africa and internationally. Prof. Habib obtained his Masters and Doctoral qualifications in political studies from the City University of New York. He holds a Masters degree from the University of Natal in South Africa, an Honours degree from Wits and a BA from the University of Natal.

Professor Sir David King FRS HonFREng


Professor Sir David King is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, University of Cambridge; Founder and Chair of the Centre for Climate Repair in the University; Chair of the Climate  Crisis  Advisory Group; an Affiliate Partner of SYSTEMIQ  Limited;  Senior Strategy Adviser to the President of Rwanda and founder member  of the Clean Growth Leadership Network , CGLN. He served as Founding Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, 2008-2012, Head of the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University, 1993-2000, and Master of Downing College Cambridge 1995 – 2000.

He was the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, 2000-2007, the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change, 2013-2017, and Chair of Future Cities Catapult, 2012-2016. He has travelled widely to persuade all countries to act on climate change. He initiated an in-depth risk analysis approach to climate change, working with the Governments of China and India in particular, and initiated a collaborative programme, now known as Mission Innovation, to create a £23bn pa research and development international exercise, which involves 22 countries and the EC, to deliver all technologies needed to complete the transition into a fossil-fuel-free world economy.

In June 2021, he launched the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, CCAG, a global team of 15 climate experts drawn from 10 countries who give monthly public (virtual) meetings on their work, available to all.   CCAG are able to respond, with authority and quickly, to current needs in the process of protecting our future, with advice on the actions needed to deliver this effectively and safely.

He was born in Durban, educated at St John’s College Johannesburg and at Witwatersrand University, graduating in Chemistry and a PhD in physical chemistry. He has received 23 Honorary Degrees from universities around the world.

As Govt Chief Scientific Adviser he raised the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the British £1 billion Energy Technologies Institute. He created an in-depth futures process which advised government on a wide range of long-term issues, from flooding to obesity. He was Member, the President’s Advisory Council, Rwanda, and Science Advisor to UBS, 2008-12 

He has published over 500 papers on surface science and catalysis and on science and policy, for which he has received many awards, medals etc. and 23 honorary degrees from universities around the world.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991; Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002; knighted in 2003; made “Officier dans l’ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur” in 2009.

Contact us

Lynda Murray
+44 (0) 757 093 0704

Connect with us

© Wits Foundation UK 2021