Saying goodbye to Ruth

Ruth Bezuidenhout, General Manager of Safire Crop Protection Co-operative Limited, has been part of Safire’s 35 year journey since she joined us in the position of Plantation Manageress on 1 March 1992.

Back then, Safire was called the Central Timber Fire Protection Co-operative Limited. The innovative co-operative was based on a revolutionary concept of Bailey Bekker, who, along with other timber-growers, wanted to provide affordable insurance cover for private timber-growers using a shared pool of resources. The fledgling co-operative was based in an iconic old building at 181 Burger Street in Pietermaritzburg, sharing premises with the Central Timber Co-operative Ltd, before moving to 188 Berg Street (now Hoosen Haffajee Street), and Ruth was an integral part of a small staff complement that served the clients (timber-growers) across KwaZulu-Natal.

Over the years, Ruth has become known for her passion for her work and the personal attention and relationships that she develops with the people she meets, many becoming friends as well as business contacts.

She has spearheaded the growth of Safire’s Crop Co-operative portfolio and the expansion and diversification of products developed specifically for farmers across the country.

Ruth was at the helm when, in the year 2000, the co-operative was demutualised and the members became shareholders, and again in 2003, when new Co-operative pools were developed to broaden our timber insurance offerings.

In the same way that she is passionate about her work and her relationships, Ruth is also passionate about worthy causes. She has been instrumental in driving the involvement of the Safire group in various projects that benefit others, especially those focusing on children. With the help of many of our staff members, she arranged the hands-on upgrading of facilities at Sunlit Gardens and the Kenosis Community in Pietermaritzburg that provide safety, stability, love, hope and opportunity to vulnerable and disadvantaged children. She also encouraged collection drives for the Toys From Trash programme of Singakwenza, another NPO that assists children in need, with a focus on Early Childhood Development (ECD) projects.

Ruth has been a significant part of various programmes that unite communities for enhanced strength and security, such as the Umvoti Community G911 drive, as well as more lighthearted fundraising projects including community fishing competitions and fun runs.

“Ruth has been an energetic and passionate member of our team for thirty years, and has been part of the many milestone occasions during Safire’s momentous journey,” says Pierre Bekker, Safire’s CEO. “Thirty years is an amazing testament of how much she cares about Safire and its growth. We wish her everything of the best for her retirement years and hope that she will pop in from time to time for a catch-up session.”