Gareth was born in Greytown, KZN, where he spent his childhood. He completed his high school years at Maritzburg College before graduating in Law from Stellenbosch University, where he played Maties 1 st hockey and served on the SRC as Chair. Gareth married Adri, whom he met on campus, in 1998 and with daughters Cameron (3) and Micaela (who at 5 months old tragically died in the freak car accident which also claimed Gareth’s life) lived in Kenridge, Cape. Gareth is the son of ex- Greytonians Rob and Shan and brother of Tyrone and Ryan. The following are extracts from Tributes delivered at the Memorial Service in Stellenbosch attended by over 2000 friends and family from all over RSA. Tony Irish: “I pay tribute to Gareth as a colleague, a lawyer, a friend. I feel privileged to be the one standing here to talk about this exceptional man. The silence at our office has been deafening. My other partner, Guy, and I have lost a pillar of our partnership. The legal profession of Cape Town has lost a brilliant and hugely respected lawyer. Having studied law at his beloved Stellenbosch University he then practised with Silberbauers, Jan S de Villiers and Webber Wentzel Bowens. He joined us at Irish Ashman as a partner a few years ago changing our firm, and the people who work there, forever. He was the most complete lawyer that I have ever had the privilege of working with and he did everything with the same smile and enthusiasm, with great passion and integrity and always using his God given talent to make everyone he dealt with feel special. And yes, he remained the office clown. The sparkle in those eyes and the love for mischief was always there.
Gareth’s love for sport was part of the very fabric of the man and in which he became very involved as a lawyer. We used to spend many hours in his office debating sports issues. He spent many hours trying to justify why Butch James and the other fourteen Sharks players should be first pick in the Springbok squad. [A few days before the Rugby World Cup, and during one of these lengthy discussion sessions, Gareth disclosed to a few of us at the office that with all the excitement of the approaching match he had had a dream in which he scored the winning try for the Bokke in the final. He described in great detail how he found himself metres from the line with ball in hand but, although he was running at full tilt, he just couldn’t seem to get there. Suddenly however he felt a great shove from behind and he was mauled over the line by Os du Randt and Francois Pienaar. He admitted that he found it a bit strange that Francois Pienaar had done this as he had retired about ten years earlier. What Gareth didn’t seem to find out of place however was that he himself was there out on the field, playing for South Africa in the final. He said it only dawned upon him that something was wrong as he ran back to the halfway line amidst the attention of the television cameras and the cheering of the crowds. He suddenly realised that instead of being in the green and gold he was actually wearing his Maritzburg College uniform and his Grasshopper school shoes.]
I think that Gareth found great satisfaction at being integrally involved with, and making an important contribution to, sport as a lawyer. He worked tirelessly with me behind the scenes for the cricket players’ association, and the professional cricketers of this country owe a great debt of thanks to him for all the legal work done by him to further their position in cricket. I received a personal call last week from the coach of the Proteas, Micky Arthur, who expressed his sincere condolences at the loss of Gareth. I also saw with great pride that tribute was paid to Gareth in the sports pages of last week’s Sunday Times which recognised his work done in sport. Gareth cared deeply about people and all things, big and small. He took responsibility when others wouldn’t. And he always did what was needed to make a difference. This is how I witnessed Gareth every day, and with everyone. There are so many people here today, who were part of his professional and personal life. He made his mark with all of us, and I hope his death serves to inspire all of us to be more like him. I would like to end off by quoting one of the tributes to Gareth which appeared in the newspaper last week which read very simply: “What a partner, what a friend, what a man, what an exceptional human being”. Hamba kahle Gareth. Hamba kahle mngani”.
Darryl Wright: “Gareth stood for fairness, whether it was defending the movement of woman’s rights on Stellenbosch Campus as SRC Chair, or ensuring the fairness of employer practices in our work environment on a daily basis. He was one of the humblest givers I have ever known. You will always remember two things about Gareth – one was the first time that you met him - and the other was your most recent encounter. He had humour, passion for life, energy and natural leadership. Gareth not only sought to embrace balance in life but he was extremely quick to recognise need in peoples lives and gave of himself unconditionally, often at the expense of his own need. There were times when Gareth’s balance was questionable and on matters relating to Ernie Els, Manchester United and the Sharks you were left with no uncertainty as to where Gareth’s loyalty lay. At University Gareth was a provocative yet principled leader but not one with out an edge. It was also no surprise that on the opening of the new student centre during Gareth’s reign on the SRC that Johnny Clegg, one of GJB’s heroes, was invited as the live entertainment and at the after party on the same evening, he attended the opening of the Rector’s private entertainment facility sporting Elsenberg’s finest attire of gum boots and overalls, skipping to the beat of “Impi”.
Whether Gareth was humouring us, providing wise council, engaging in a ferocious debate on politics, religion and fairness or giving of his time – every interaction was an interruption – one that made an impact, made us think and made us take stock.” Donald Tocknell: “Gareth was for me a wonderful, warm, giving person, who had the ability to transcend age groups. He had the amazing ability to bring energy and life to any room that he was in. His family, his name, his integrity, was held in high regard by Gareth. Gareth had his heart in Natal but lived in the Cape. I will no longer receive free legal advice, have free holiday accommodation nor have free wine sent up from the Cape again. I will never go on a golf tour with my friends again, never be able to braai a big fillet again, never be able to catch Carinteen again, never listen to Savuka, Juluka, Edith Piaff again, never be able to listen to U2 “Street With No Name”, “Beautiful Day” again, never be able to catch shore break on Natal beaches again, never be able to argue a useless point about a useless subject from a useless standpoint - without thinking of Gareth. Gareth always asked me if I was there yet. I replied, “Almost there”, (to which) he replied, “I am here”.