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DATE: 13 MARCH 2019


The Board of the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) noted the Citizen Report that claims “CEO pay bleeds SANBS” of 11 March 2019 and the editorial published the following day.

As the Board is responsible for the appointment and the remuneration of the CEO, we wish to place the following on record for the information of our donors and other stakeholders of SANBS as there are considerations that appear not to have been taken into account when The Citizen published its articles.

SANBS is a non-profit organisation that provides an essential national healthcare service, namely the delivery of safe blood to all South Africans. Its responsibilities include managing the entire blood transfusion value chain from collections, testing and processing to distribution to patients. All donated blood is tested for transfusion-transmissible diseases, blood grouping, and patient compatibility using sophisticated processes and equipment to ensure the safety of the blood.

The role of the CEO of SANBS is to lead and oversee the execution of all of these services and responsibilities; and such an individual is required to possess the necessary qualifications and business acumen to do so. Dr Jonathan Louw was appointed by the Board, having followed an extensive and robust search process, on the basis of his specialist medical knowledge and his extensive commercial experience. When appointments of this calibre are made the non-profit sector competes for talent in the open market. It is therefore, not accurate to benchmark salaries at non-profit organisations in isolation from the broader market.

Indeed, Dr Louw is offering his expertise to SANBS at a lower rate than what he could command in the open market. The direction that the Board sets for SANBS is that it should be run on professional principles for it to be able to execute its mandate of national importance. We believe that these standards should apply to all organisations of substance regardless of the sector that they operate in.

It is worthwhile pointing out that SANBS is very different from how the typical non-profit organisation is perceived by the general public. It employs 2500 people across 180 sites around the country, excluding the Western Cape. It has an annual turnover of nearly R3bn, and a vast supplier network. The sustainability of the organisation and its ability to serve effectively and equitably depends on operational innovation, efficiency and applying cutting-edge medical science and technology. SANBS has consistently been rated as among the best global blood and related products providers. This is made possible by the skill and competence of the executive team and the employees of SANBS.

Finally, the Board is satisfied that its governance of remuneration meets good practice standards. SANBS participates in a remuneration benchmarking project every two years to ensure that the organisation’s remuneration policies and practices are competitive and in line with market trends. Therefore all employees’ remuneration, including the CEO, is benchmarked against similar and same size organisations in order to attract and retain employees with the requisite skills and experience.

SANBS’ donors play a vital role in saving the lives of all South Africans. The SANBS continues to focus on its key purpose; to save patients’ lives and fulfil our mission to  provide all patients with sufficient, safe, quality blood products and medical services, in an equitable, cost effective manner.