Professor Gerwel "completed his Bachelor of Arts and Honours degrees at the University of the Western Cape. He obtained the Licentiate in Germanic Philology and Doctor of Literature and Philosophy (magna cum laude) at the Vrije Universiteit te Brussel. He holds honorary doctorates from Clark College, City University of New York and University of Missouri in the USA, and UCT, UWC, Rhodes, Witwatersrand, Natal and Stellenbosch in South Africa.
"He taught Afrikaans and Dutch literature at the University of the Western Cape where he subsequently was Vice-Chancellor from 1987 to April 1994. From May 1994 to June 1999 Professor Gerwel served as Director-General in the Office of President Mandela and Secretary of the Cabinet in the Government of National Unity. Additional activities and functions as Director-General in the Office of the President included: Secretary of the Cabinet of the Government of National Unity; Chancellor of the Chancellery of Orders; Cabinet appointed member of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee; the President's representative on the National Intelligence Co-ordination Committee; Personal representative of the President on the G16 Group on Multilateral Reform; Chairperson of the Standing Committee of Senior Officials of the Southern African Development Community; the South African Representative on the Standing Committee of Senior Officials of the Commonwealth and Presidential envoy on various international issues.
"President Mandela decorated Professor Gerwel for exceptional service to South Africa by conferring on him the Order of the Southern Cross (Gold). He also holds the Freedom of the Town of Somerset East and national orders from Saudi Arabia and Libya.
"Professor Gerwel is presently a Director of Naspers, Educor, Old Mutual and Goldfields Limited and non-executive Chairman of Brimstone Investment Corporation and Africon Engineering International. He is Chancellor of Rhodes University; Distinguished Professor in the Humanities jointly at the University of the Western Cape and Chairman of the Human Sciences Research Council. He Chairs the Boards of Trustees of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and ACCORD and is also the Chairperson of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation." 
"He is presently a non-executive director of Naspers and Old Mutual.
- Vice-Chair, Peace Parks Foundation 
- Patron, Kagiso Trust 
- Chair, Nelson Mandela Children's Foundation
- Trustee (Chair), Mandela Rhodes Foundation 
Resources and articles
- Prof. Jakes Gerwel Trustee, ACCORD, accessed September 5, 2007.
- Jakes Gerwel, Peace Parks Foundation, accessed June 26, 2009.
- The Origins of Peace Parks Foundation, Peace Parks Foundation, accessed November 26, 2007.
- Patrons, Kagiso Trust, accessed March 11, 2010.
- Trustees, Mandela Rhodes Foundation, accessed May 31, 2010.