Mzansi Profiles! People Derek Watts Biography | Early Life | Battle With Cancer and Death | Education | Career | Age

Derek Watts Biography | Early Life | Battle With Cancer and Death | Education | Career | Age

Derek Watts Biography | Early Life | Battle With Cancer and Death | Education | Career | Age post thumbnail image

Derek Watts Biography | Early Life | Battle With Cancer and Death | Education | Career | Age

Derek Watts was a South African television presenter best known for being the presenter of the actuality show Carte Blanche. He was also an MC, Guest Speaker, and media trainer. Watts died on 22 August 2023 after a long battle with cancer.

Early Life

Derek Watts, born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, Gauteng, is a media personality known for his contributions to journalism and broadcasting. He relocated to Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe, at the age of five and spent his formative years there.


Despite his academic struggles and aversion to formal education, Watts completed his schooling. His post-graduation period was marked by uncertainty about his career path.


During his early twenties, Watts explored various professional avenues. He served in the military, specializing as an Adjutant and Company Commander. He pursued training in computer operations and gained work experience with a plastic manufacturing company.

His foray into journalism began with a position at The Herald in Zimbabwe. In 1974, he embarked on his journalism career as a cub reporter at the Rhodesia Herald. Subsequently, he transitioned to television news, joining the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) TV News team. Over a span of four years, he assumed roles such as sub-editor and sports anchor.

In 1988, two years after the launch of M-Net, Watts and fellow journalist Ruda Landman were approached by producer Bill Faure to participate in a new show on the nascent channel.

Watts’s most notable and enduring role came through his involvement with the long-running current affairs program, “Carte Blanche.” His association with the show spanned 35 years.

Under his stewardship, “Carte Blanche” evolved into an award-winning program that garnered recognition both domestically and internationally. The show introduced a fresh perspective to investigative journalism in South Africa, leaving an indelible mark on the media landscape.

In July 2023, Derek Watts announced he was stepping down from his role as the presenter of “Carte Blanche” after being hospitalised.

Hospitalisation and Death

Derek Watts faced several health challenges during the latter part of his life. Following a private struggle with cancer, at the age of 74, he received a diagnosis of severe sepsis which ultimately led to his hospitalization. This condition caused him to collapse and subsequently required him to undergo a process of rehabilitation to regain his ability to walk.

In 2022, Watts was diagnosed with skin cancer that had metastasized to his lungs. Supported by his family and a team of medical specialists, he continued to fulfil his role as a presenter on the television show “Carte Blanche.” However, his ongoing battle with sepsis, which flared up in March 2023, added complexity to his cancer treatment.

In the early months of 2022, Watts discovered a lump beneath his arm. After persistent encouragement from his wife, Belinda, he eventually sought medical attention. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to his lungs, resulting in diminished lung capacity. Consequently, he intermittently required the assistance of an oxygen machine.

Derek Watts was compelled to suspend his chemotherapy treatment in order to mitigate the risk of exacerbating his sepsis condition. Despite this setback, his oncologists advised him to resume chemotherapy. Tragically, Derek Watts succumbed to his battle with cancer on August 22, 2023.


Derek Watts was married to Belinda and the couple had two children, a son named Tyrone and a daughter named Kirstin. The initial encounter between Derek and his partner took place at the Benmore-based Pick n Pay store within the pet food section.

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