Media release: 17 November 2017

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) inaugurated the 115th president since its inception in 1903. This honour was bestowed on Errol Kerst at La Toscana in Montecasino, Fourways, on 16 November 2017.

Kerst is the owner of EK & Associates in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. His address was deilivered during a festive event with various champions of the infrastructure industry, government officials, engineering clients from both the private and public sectors, as well as SAICE past presidents and other members, attending. The title of his address was “The 360 Degree Jigsaw Puzzle”.

He studied under some of the truly great professors such as Jere Jennings, Alan Ockleston, Des Midgley and Ivan Schwarts, and regarded that as a true privilege. Kerst enthuses that at a similar event in 1930 Mr TWW Perry made the following comments in his presidential address:

  • “A successful engineer may be recognised as a physically fit man, [but] has it ever occurred to you that any further outward sign of his profession is not apparent?
  • The fact remains that little distinguishes an engineer from the general run of mankind.
  • In a continent with such great distances separating the members, the viability of the Society [known as the SA Society of Civil Engineers at the time], can only be assured by each member contributing whatever part, small or great, he can to its objects and thus share in its efforts to be of usefulness to the profession and through it to the country in general.
  • Let us have all the constructive criticism you can, and do not blame the ‘old gang’ in Cape Town if your silence should lead to the inference that nothing can be improved upon – stagnation might result in such a case.”

Kerst also quoted from Dr Daniel Adamson, who was the President of Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1929, “The engineer is often blamed for not taking greater interest in public affairs to his own advantage and the public benefit; but one of our difficulties no doubt is that the technical developments that interest us are so much in advance of public knowledge that the public cannot understand us or our words, and we are too interested to stop and explain ourselves.” Kerst commented that many of the quotes from 1930, 1950 and 1980 all have a similar feel to the challenges SAICE is facing in 2017!

The SAICE Strategic Plan of 2010 (updated in 2014) has several pillars, with one of the very important pillars being SUSTAINABILTY, which includes such as the following:

  • Maintaining value for membership
  • Maintaining SAICE health
  • Promoting Ethics
  • Advising society
  • Being an influential mouthpiece
  • Maintaining international recognition and standing
  • Assisting public bodies to unblock and provide short-term resources
  • Providing services for professional registration, CPD and making members more marketable
  • Participating meaningfully in international civil engineering organisations
  • Doing collectively what cannot be done individually

In conclusion Kerst paraphrased the late President John F Kennedy, when he said: The new frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises; it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the SAICE membership during my year in office, but what I intend to ask of the members.

This in summary requires that the organisational structure of SAICE be changed to effect getting closer to the membership to be able to guide or mentor members from learner/student and graduate levels, which could lead to registration or certification of some form.

He concluded by saying, “In this short speech I attempted to put together the basic pieces of the 360 degree jigsaw puzzle that SAICE must become and to share my vision for the years ahead.”


SAICE is the learned society and professional home of approximately 12 000 civil engineering professionals – engineers, technologists and technicians.

Issued by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)

For more information please contact:

Marie Ashpole


Cell: 082 870 9229

Tel: 011 805 5947

Fax: 011 805 5971

Nadeena le Tang


Cell: 071 008 2052



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