The Tutu Tygers Club, an initiative of the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust, seeks to carry out the founding patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Mrs. Leah Tutu to provide high-quality care for all of Tygerberg Hospital’s children.

Jason Falken, the CEO of the trust “In the Arch and Mrs. Leah Tutu’s honour we will fight like Tygers for the future of all our children, especially those whose future is being ignored and downtrodden by injustice. We will create a platform for young leaders to rise up and help pave the way for our children to have a chance at realising their dreams.”

In the shadow of Tygerberg Hospital, our own communities of Ravensmead, Eersteriver, and Wellington long known for tough times and social struggles, few of our youth are able to escape the trappings of disproportionate opportunity. Yet four young men from these very neighbourhoods, namely Vernon Philander, Ashley Johnson, Juan de Jongh and Cornal Hendricks have risen to international sporting stardom and have taken on the challenge laid down by Arch Tutu and his Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to change the paradigm of poverty and its influence on childhood health and wellbeing.

They are the founders of the Tutu Tygers, a club of extraordinary leaders under the banner of the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust, charged with carrying forward the values and social purpose espoused by our patrons the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Mrs. Leah Tutu.

Each of these Tutu Tygers will use their influence and standing on a global platform and drive campaigns through one of our four “Baskets of Care” which they have personally adopted as close to their hearts, namely:


Specialised Care

General Paediatrics

Social Development




Vernon is a former Protea SA cricketer and former World Number 1 test bowler. He is happily married and has 19-month-old son also known as his little champion. “I’ve chosen the Neonatology basket as this is the beginning of the journey of life and we all deserve a fair chance of it, to be born underweight or with any other complication that requires special care and attention – I endeavour to play my part in delivering an effective and efficient Neonatal care unit.”




Ashley is a former Springbok rugby player who currently plays professionally for Wasps in the Aviva Premiership. He also played for Free State Cheetahs at provincial level and the Cheetahs in the Super Rugby. “I am a family man raising 3 kids with my wife in the UK, trying to give back and make a difference for the next generation. So many children are impacted by social factors such as nutrition, education and social ills in their community, this is why I have chosen Specialised Care.”




Juan is a former Springbok rugby player who currently plays professionally for the Wasps in the UK and does coaching part time. He also played professionally for WP Rugby, Stormers, Springboks, SA Sevens, Barbarians and the Olympics. He is happily married with a 16-month-old daughter, it’s been said that she is the splitting image of her dad. He wants to “reach out and help all the kids, to help the next generation and try to keep building and growing our communities and country.”




Cornal is a former Springbok rugby player who currently plays for the Vodacom Bulls. He is happily married with a two-year-old daughter. “Since I have the Grace of God to become a father to my Little Princess, my understanding changed about early childhood development. Our children’s character is already starting to be formed in their mothers’ wombs. How parents treat each other in the pregnancy period is already a deciding factor on what heights our child will endeavour later in life.”