Joseph van Heerden was born on 20 January 1948. He matriculated at the Northern Cape Agricultural High School in 1965 and graduated from the Onderstepoort faculty with a BVSc degree in 1970. Further qualifications include a MMedVet (Medicine) degree in 1982 and a BSc (Hons) (Nat) in 1976, the latter constituting a well-known qualification of the University of Pretoria in nature conservation.
His employment record includes being senior lecturer in the Department of Medicine of the Onderstepoort faculty from 1977 until 1982 and head of the Department of Companion Animal Medicine and Surgery in the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA) from 1987 to 1997 after which he moved to private practice in Kimberley
The scope of Dr van Heerden’s services to the South African Veterinary Association has been exceptional
This includes representing the Wildlife Group on the Federal Council for 15 years, being nationally elected member of the latter since 1991, and chairman of the Awards Committee since 1995. He is the recipient of several South African Veterinary Association awards, including the President’s Award in 1995.
His term of office as editor of the SA Veterinary Journal, lasted from the end of 1987, when he was 39, until the middle of 1995, a period of about 7 years. At this stage, he was a professor at MEDUNSA. Under his editorship, the journal earned the international status of being classified as a refereed journal by initiating the use of internationally recognised referees for the evaluation of contributions. Dr van Heerden was active as editor until 1995.
He was well respected and loved in the Kimberley community and the wider veterinary community.