Executive Chairperson of Toyota South Africa, Dr Johan van Zyl, has passed away at the age of 63.
Van Zyl passed away on Saturday from COVID-19-related complications in a Pretoria hospital.
He started his long career with the automobile manufacturer in 1993 and served as CEO of Toyota Africa and Europe before his retirement earlier this year.
Dr van Zyl began his career with Toyota in 1993, when he was appointed Director of Vehicle Sales & Dealer Network for Toyota South Africa.
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.
In a statement, Toyota South Africa said the passing of ‘the doc’, as he was affectionately known, was a great loss to the automotive industry, as he not only contributed to the success of Toyota both locally and internationally but played a pivotal role in the sector’s growth.
Sihle Zikalala, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal – where Toyota SA is based, paid tribute to van Zyl, calling him “one of the most formidable business minds that the country has ever produced”.
“Dr van Zyl worked tirelessly to support the efforts of the country to market the automotive sector in KZN and South Africa globally. A giant of the business world has fallen. Dr van Zyl supported government programmes for the transformation of our economy and the building of a prosperous South Africa. KZN benefitted immensely from his wisdom and servant leadership which built Toyota South Africa into a global player with firm roots in KZN,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala extended condolences to the van Zyl family, friends and colleagues: “We wish members of his family, his friends, and associates strength during this difficult time and hope. May they find comfort in the knowledge that Dr Van Zyl’s life was a life well lived and in service of the country.”
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