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Bertie Lubner – business leader, philanthropist, and dear friend of the Els family – sadly passed away on Monday 18 April at the age of 85.

Bertie Lubner and his brother Ronnie built PG Group into one of South Africa’s most successful companies. However, he will perhaps be remembered most for the extraordinary scope and impact of his charitable work, aimed at improving the lives of under-privileged youngsters in some of the most deprived areas in the country. “We’re at war against poverty,” Lubner once said.

“He was an amazing friend of not just the family but all our foundations,” commented Ernie. “Bertie was a true gentleman with an amazing sense of humour! He was a visionary, mentor, friend and one who will never be forgotten. Liezl and I send our sincere condolences to all the family at this very sad time.”

Among the many non-profit charitable organisations to which he lent his support, Lubner was chairman and co-founder of Afrika Tikkun, established to spearhead meaningful transformation and to empower individuals from disadvantaged circumstances to become skilled, educated and productive; to be masters of their own fate.

Lubner was also a recipient of numerous awards including the President’s Order of Meritorious Service. Indeed, President Mandela described Lubner’s work with Afrika Tikkun as a miracle. “I never expected organisations of this nature, which have brought hope to the disadvantaged,” said Mandela.

A statement on the Afrika Tikkun website read: “In true humanitarian spirit, Bertie put the interests of the community needs first. Up to his final days upon this earth, the thoughts of his heart and his commitment remained touchingly with the beneficiaries of Afrika Tikkun. We have lost a hero, one whose accomplishments in the thousands of lives changed through Afrika Tikkun extends beyond measure.”

A spokesperson for the Smile Foundation, also founded by Lubner in order to help improve the lives of disadvantaged children in South Africa, commented: “Dr. Bertie Lubner was a kind and generous man who did so much for so many and will be sorely missed. He truly was a legend in his lifetime.”