Namibian logistics expert Willie du Toit, renowned for his contribution to the Namibian transport and logistics sector, will also be remembered by the industry for being one of the few Namibians to break the monopoly of South African trucking companies in Namibia and the region.
Du Toit, who died at his home in Windhoek on Monday afternoon at the age of 68, was the managing director of his family business, FP du Toit Transport Group. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and one grandson.
Du Toit left a strong legacy of creating opportunities and employment for Namibians in the transport and logistics sector.
While his business is purely a Namibian initiative, it spanned across borders, and his trucks became a regional phenomenon, transporting cargo to most destinations in southern Africa. Industry experts described him as an impactful leader who made a difference in the Namibian economy through employment- creation, and providing expert opinions. Those around him described him as humble, and saw him as a mentor.
The company's chief executive officer, Stephan Terblanche, confirmed Du Toit's death, adding that the cause of death was still unknown, although they suspect a heart attack. They are, however, waiting for the post-mortem report.
Speaking to The Namibian, he said the family is shocked and were not prepared, "but we will always have fond memories of 'baas' Willie, as most people around him called him."
Terblanche added that Du Toit has made an immense contribution to the logistics company, and the sector at large. The company had also started a tourism subsidiary called Taleni Africa.
He noted that everyone at work was heartbroken, and will always remember the late Du Toit for his kindness, humility and work ethic.
"He was very humble and caring. Everyone who knows him can confirm this. But we will go on and implement all the plans that were in place while he was still alive. We are driven to deliver, and the results will show," he continued.
Conveying condolences to the family and the industry, transport minister John Mutorwa said Du Toit made a mark in the logistics/transport sector at large.
"The man has made his mark in the transport sector, and we would like to convey our condolences to the bereaved family and the transport sector," observed the minister. Absolute Logistics' managing director, Holger Jensen, said Du Toit did a lot for the logistics industry, and the Namibian Logistics Association (NLA). He even pushed for the establishment of the NLA.
Although Absolute Logistics was in direct competition with the FP du Toit Transport Group, Jensen added that they always had a good relationship, and he respected the late Du Toit.
Industry expert Clive Smith said Du Toit has over the years greatly contributed towards establishing a robust transport sector which today forms an integral part of Namibia's economy.
Smith added that Du Toit's expertise and passion have been invaluable, and will be sorely missed by the industry.
"My thoughts are with his family, the entire FP Du Toit Transport family, and the industry at large," Smith added.
Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Charity Mwiya stated that Du Toit played a huge role in employment-creation within the logistics sector, and will always be remembered for the impact he made.
She added that the logistics sector has been hard-hit by the recent recession, and his expertise would have been vital in the sector's revival.
Mwiya described Du Toit's death as a huge blow to the industry, Namibia and the company, adding that new industry entrants could learn from him, and understand how he dedicated his life to the industry and the economy at large.
The 51-year-old company, which is 100% Namibian-owned, has put Namibia on the map through operating in eight countries, with 13 depots and a fleet of 560 vehicles.
The company employs roughly 1 000 people.