KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier Mr Sihle Zikalala, has expressed sadness following the passing of Toyota SA executive Chairman and former CEO, Dr Johan van Zyl, whom he described as ‘one of the most formidable business minds that the country has ever produced’.
Dr van Zyl passed away on Friday night reportedly from COVID-19 related complications at a Pretoria hospital.
“Today we dip our hats for the fallen Dr van Zyl. Dr van Zyl’s passing comes at a time when we are engaged in the difficult task of rebuilding our economy following the damage inflicted on it by the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently by incidents of civil unrest.
“In this rebuilding process we are working closely with all social partners, including business, for which Toyota has been instrumental. We had therefore hoped that Dr van Zyl was going to be one of those from whom we continue to draw wisdom and inspiration as we embark on this task.
“He was no doubt one of our greatest exports in the business world. Therefore, in tribute to Dr van Zyl we call on all the people of KwaZulu-Natal, across all sectors to unite and double their efforts in ensuring that we restore confidence so as to recover the economy and attract even more investment to the province.”
The 63-year-old began his career with Toyota in 1993, when he was appointed Director of Vehicle Sales & Dealer Network for Toyota South Africa (TSA).
He was promoted to the role of President and COO of TSA in 2002, before becoming President and CEO in 2003. In June 2009, he was appointed as Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and became CEO of the Africa Region in April 2013.
In 2015, he took on the role of President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe (TME) and became a Senior Managing Officer of TMC in April 2017.
Dr van Zyl retired from TME at the end of March this year, but remained as Chairman of TSA on his return to South Africa. □