In Memory

Derek Vorster

Derek Vorster was with with our cohort until 5th form, after which he took a more leisurely route to Matric. He eventually became a prominent expert in water conservation and management, and travelled all over South Africa at government behest to advise on different problems and projects.  On one occasion he was invited by the Australian government to provide his expertise there, and he took that opportunity to reconnect with his old DHS classmate Andrew Forsyth.

Derek married Melody, a teacher, in 1969.  They lived in Zululand and had four children.  Melody also ran a bed and breakfast.  One day in 2004 Derek climbed a ladder to attach a B&B sign to a tree, but suffered a fall. His injury lead to a pulmonary thrombosis and he died in Epangeni shortly afterward, on 4th March. 

Here are pictures of Derek with Andrew Forsyth in Sydney in 1998.   Please also see Andrew Forsyth's words about Derek below.


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27/11/11 05:02 PM #1    

Andrew Forsyth

Derek lived with his parents when he attended DHS and Natal University.  They lived in Durban North.  I first met Derek when we were about 15 years old.  We had a common interest in buzz bikes and became close friends. His bike was a 49cc Itom and mine, a clapped out 49cc Maserati that I bought from an African petrol attendant for 20 rand.  Derek decided that mine needed to be bored out to 75cc and he organized this for me.  Derek was a practical man able to to turn his hand successfully to anything mechanical.  He often amazed me with this ability.  One day in his parents' garage he decided that we should service my bike's gear box.  Before I could say no he'd opened the gear box.  As he lifted it away from the engine it bust open and thousands of tiny engineering pieces fell out of it and rolled every which way all over the garage floor.  Ball bearings, ring clips, engineered gear pieces, shiny metal tubes running like mad men bouncing on the concrete floor!  His talent was such that the next day I returned to the Vorsters' home and things were put right and the bike worked. I was truly amazed and still am at his skill.

I lost touch with Derek when I went to England.  He married Melody from Durban North in about 1969 and they had four children.  I later migrated to Australia and lost further touch with him.

Completely out of the blue in about 1998 I received a call from him to say that he was to visit Australia on business and would be passing through Sydney.  He could come a week earlier on leave and asked if he could stay with me and catch up.  I met him at the airport and was shocked to see a Derek about 30 years on.  But very soon the idea that time had passed slipped away and really the friendship just shone through.

Derek lived in Zululand and worked for the Zululand Water Authority.  Their main function was to collect and store water for human consumption.  He played down this role to me.  As Australia and South Africa have similar climates, Australia provides South Africa with foreign aid on water harvesting.   This visit of Derek's to Australia was part of the foreign aid, to show South African experts how we collected and stored water.

I saw Derek again about two years later as he passed through Sydney on his way to China with Melody.  I think that he was involved with teaching the Chinese how they should approach their problems with water collection and storage.  Again he played down the importance of his role.  I just didn't know how senior he was!

In about 2007 Melody called me from Zululand and told me that he had died.  As far as I understood they owned a small B&B and herb shop close of the main road and there was a need to erect a sign advertising their business near that road.  Derek climbed up a ladder but fell off.   That night he died in his bed after waking and telling Melody he was feeling very ill and that she needed to call a doctor.   Derek died before the doctor arrived.   The conclusion was that there was a blood clot in Derek's leg and the fall had dislodged it, so it travelled to his heart or his brain and resulted in his death.   I was very shocked.

About a year later I met Melody in London.  We spoke about Derek.   As I said twice earlier, he had played down his role.  It turned out that Derek was a ministerial adviser to the South African government and the South African Prime Minister.  Melody told me that when in meetings the South African Prime Minister would often summon Derek to attend and make his recommendations known.  She said that he would just fly off wherever...probably in the minister's private jet.  I often wonder what else Derek, the buzz bike wizzkid, was doing to help the South African nation.












02/03/15 09:15 AM #2    

Denis Moffatt

Derek was CEO of uMhlatuze Water in Richards Bay, a position he managed well. I worked with him as I was on the board, a very difficult bunch, highly political and not entirely competent.

He was not phased by this, and always remained calm and professional. At least he made my experience pleasant, and we had some good times together, in spite of our sometimes cynical view of obviously crooked travel claims etc.

I was shocked when he died of an embolism while in hospital on traction, after falling while repairing his roof. His ability to fix things became his downfall.

He would be astounded to hear that he was replaced by a person with far less experience and knowledge at  a 50% hike in salary, especially as I frequently told him that he was over paid for a guy who cleaned water and pumped sewerage out to sea.

What he would find amusing though was that the board was reshuffled [for the normal reasons] and the new chairman, a Ms Dudu Dlamini was there long enough to do serious damage to the organisation, before being moved onwards and upwards to the board of SAA where she is also chairman [or chairperson, the new terminology]. She is well connected to Number One. 

This would have tickled his sense of humour.

I am told that Melody is in the Ballito area and doing ok.

Derek was a good mate and he never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was proud of being at DHS.

Denny Moffatt

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