Citizen Reporter
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2 minute read
1 Aug 2021
11:57 am

Tributes pour in for Toyota’s Dr Johan van Zyl

Citizen Reporter

From businesses to sport teams, the passing of Van Zyl due to Covid-19 complications came as a shock to all who knew and worked with him.

The late Dr Johan van Zyl. Photo: Toyota Europe

Toyota bigwig Dr Johan van Zyl’s passing due to Covid-19 complications has left a gaping hole in the corporate world, with tributes continuing o pour in. 

Van Zyl died on Friday evening, with Toyota Europe saying the “unfortunate loss has come as a shock to us all.”

“We have lost a much loved and admired leader – and an amazing person – who will always be remembered for his humour, calmness and personal empathy.”

His career spanned 28 years, with Van Zyl first joining Toyota South Africa in 1993 as director of vehicle sales and dealer networks. 

In 2002, he was promoted to President and COO of Toyota SA, and became President and CEO in 2003. 

In 2013, he was appointed to CEO of the Africa region, and took on the role of President and CEO of Toyota Motor Euroope. 

Despite retiring from Toyota Motor Europe in March, he remained chairman of Toyota SA.

“Johan will most be remembered for his humanity, his ability to remember the name of each person he came into contact with, his self-deprecating sense of humour that immediately put everyone at ease and his extensive general knowledge,” the company said in a tribute on Saturday. 

“No words can truly express the sadness we feel at his passing, or the gratitude we feel for having had the privilege of working with him. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go to his wife, daughters and his grandchildren,” said President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe, Matt Harrison. 

Free State Rugby said in a statement that his leadership, contribution, encouraging and unflinching support “proved invaluable”.

“We salute his enormous contribution to Toyota, our naming sponsors, and the motor industry as a whole – in South Africa and internationally.” 

Free State rugby team the Cheetahs’ managing director, Harold Verster, said Van Zyl always encouraged them to “persevere and move forward”, and that without him, the team would have found it difficult to receive sponsorship with Toyota for so many years. 

Below are some social media tributes to Van Zyl.

Compiled by Nica Richards