By Mark Davison – One of the South African IT industry’s most admired and ebullient executives, Jacques Malherbe, chief technology officer of the Axiz group of companies, has died. He was 67-years-old.

He suffered a suspected heart attack at his home in Johannesburg as he was preparing to leave for work early this morning.

Malherbe had a long and distinguished career in the industry – mainly in executive roles – from chief financial officer of Blue Sky back in the early 1990s with MD Tom Pegrume, to CEO of Westcon where he took over the reins from another IT veteran, John Hurrell. After the merger of Comztek and Westcon, Malherbe left the company to found and lead Advanced Technologies, a new division within the then AxizWorkgroup stable. He took up his current position as group CTO about three years ago.

A message to staff from Axiz CEO Craig Brunsden on the news needs no additional comment. It reads:

“I am deeply saddened to communicate the passing of our colleague and Chief Technology Officer, Jacques Malherbe. It is believed Jacques suffered a heart attack at his home this morning.

“Jacques was a unique man in so many ways and had an influence on so many people in the company, past and present. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him closely for the past eight or so years, but have known him for over 20, in various forms as a customer, competitor and, more recently, as a trusted executive. I will remember him as a gentleman, a leader, a mentor and one of the smartest people I have ever had a conversation with.

“We are still working through the implications of this news, offering support to his team and will communicate any internal memorial and team plans in due course.

“Jacques was one of kind, and made a huge mark of our company and the IT industry as a whole. My sincere condolences go to all you for the loss of our colleague, friend and mentor. He will be sorely missed.

“Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Speedy, his six children and his grandchildren. We wish them all strength through this extremely difficult time.

“May Jack Malibu rest in peace.