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David Gevisser hypocrite – father of hypocrite Mark Gevisser

David Gevisser: Industrialist and public figure
Published:May 03, 2009

David Gevisser, the South African industrialist and respected public figure who has died at the age of 82, held to his heart two pet hates: procrastination and racism.

This is according to one of his sons, the celebrated writer, Mark Gevisser. “My father was a very warm and empathetic person,” he said, “but he was intellectually demanding; very intolerant of sloppy thinking.”

Gevisser was born in Durban in 1926. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. After obtaining his degree in forestry at Stellenbosch University, Gevisser read for a master of forestry degree at New York State College.

A passionate conservationist, Gevisser dedicated a lot of his time to the expansion and conservation of forestry in South Africa.
In this regard, he introduced, according to his son, “many innovative techniques, and oversaw the expansion of the forestry along and below the Mpumalanga eastern escarpment”.

As well as being national chairman of the SA Institute of Race Relations and a trustee of the Market Theatre, he was chairman of the State Forestry Company and oversaw the privatisation of state forests. Gevisser is also credited with the advancement of genetic tree breeding in South Africa, today one of the world leaders in this.

In his retirement, Gevisser obtained a master’s of studies in historical research from Oxford University. His dissertation was on Stalin and Hitler.

As a man who led a “multiplicity of lives”, as his friend, former DA leader Tony Leon, said, Gevisser was also intimately involved in politics.

Said Leon: “He was one of a few Jews to enthusiastically pursue liberal and progressive politics when it was unfashionable to do so.”
The two continued to be friends, yet there developed a cleavage in their respective political philosophies when Gevisser went to work as an adviser to former minister of forestry Kader Asmal, then a staunch ANC man.

Gevisser is survived by his wife, Hedda, four sons and three grandchildren. — Tiisetso Makube

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