Beyers Coetzee Tribute

When telling the story and history of the Loziba Wildlife Reserve, the name Beyers Coetzee will come up early on every time, without fail! This is simply because without Beyers, the reserve wouldn’t be what it is today and you probably wouldn’t be on reading this tribute. Beyers, the husband of Una and father to Luan and Lara, was also the visionary behind the Loziba project.

Beyers had the original vision for a reserve, with the wildlife (particularly the elephants) and the community at its core. Even naming the reserve and designing the iconic Loziba logo.

Tragically, on the 18th of February 2020, while Beyers was out in the reserve trying to prevent a human-wildlife conflict between the elephants and a local community, he was killed by the very elephants that he was trying so hard and diligently to protect.

To everyone linked to the Loziba Wildlife Reserve in whatever way, big or small. The role Beyers played will never be forgotten! He will always be a wildlife & community hero to us, for starting us off on this journey to build a reserve that protects wildlife, improves the livelihoods of the communities that live on its borders and rewild an African landscape for future generations.

For the team at Loziba, it was essential that we had a section of the website dedicated to Beyers, telling his story, and detailing the role he played in getting us all started on this vital wildlife, environmental, and humanitarian mission.

The below tribute has been written by Una, Beyers's wife and the person most qualified to tell Beyers's story;

Una’s Tribute To Beyers

It has been a long struggle and journey to make Loziba “happen". We have lost so much but the wheel can only turn for the good and within some time, in the near future, we trust that Loziba will be a great destiny for all the weary, immortal souls just like Beyers. May his soul always rest in peace, at Loziba, and may God grant us the strength to endure this great pain. “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all" Samuel Butler.

I wish you all could have met Beyers, he was such a gentle soul. Beyers, an Architect by profession, had assisted me since 2017 with all the challenges I was facing as Executor of my father’s Estate. He had a brilliant mind. A courageous humble individual, who not only made a difference within our surrounding community but also interacted and liaised with many International NGO’s. The reason why he invented Loziba was to address all the risks we were facing (elephants, fences, land claims, Estate Taxes etc). I could not sleep at night after my father passed on and Beyers was worried (ironically) that something dreadful would happen to me and who will look after our children . Beyers, most of the time, shared his heart only in an email. It was difficult for him to truly show his emotions. Most people know him as an extrovert and full of energy but him being a pisces he could swim low between the dark rocks of the sea or jump the waves with excitement. Pisces are some of the most magical people you will ever meet. That was Beyers! Andries Botha only met Beyers once and Beyers made such an impression on Andries that he truly connected with Beyers. They shared the same passion being both artistic. In one of Beyers emails to me he wrote in Afrikaans “Die beste beskrywing wie ek regtig is". He copied the content from the internet and pasted it in an email. Content below:

“Pisces people are known for being emotionally sensitive, gracious, and emotionally aware. Pisces characters are regarded for being among the most sympathetic of the zodiac signs, and they will go to great lengths to ensure the happiness of those around them. They’re also creative and imaginative. They are known for their ability to sense the feelings of others. As people pleasers, Pisces are natural guides and have a deep desire to help others".

No wonder that Beyers wanted to protect the community from the elephants to get too close to them. The Zulu community and locals told me that they have given Beyers a new Zulu name “Umuntu Kankulunkulu" MAN OF GOD.

He wanted me to know who he truly was. He always wanted to be understood. He did a lot of research on people, body language, and understanding humans beyond anyone, actually any topic. His desire for research made him an intellectual ‘wizard”, Beyers was born 3 March 1974 on World Wildlife Day. He was sadly (or not) born with Aspergers Syndrome. At age five he could not stand it to walk on sand. He used to bite his tongue to cope with the sensory feeling he had which overwhelmed him.

Beyers invented the name “Loziba Wilderness", named after Mzilikazi Moselekatse’s favourite Queen Loziba. I am sure you know the history of Mzilikazi but herewith a short summary:

“Mzilikazi Moselekatse, Khumalo (c. 1790 – 9 September 1868) was a Southern African king who founded the Mthwakazi Kingdom now known as Matebeleland, in Zimbabwe. His name means “the great river of blood". He was born the son of Mashobane kaMangethe near Mkuze, Zululand and died at Ingama, Matebeleland (near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe). Many consider him to be the greatest Southern African military leader after the Zulu king, Shaka. In his autobiography, David Livingstone referred to Mzilikazi as the second most impressive leader he encountered on the African continent. (source : Wikipedia)".

Beyers chose the name Loziba for the following reasons;

His vision of Loziba was the characteristics of Mzilikazi's favourite queen. She (Loziba) is a strong woman, he dreamed of storytelling around the fire with international tourists and to introduce the rich history of the area known as Black Umfolozi. Also to market the property to become a conservation area and address the uncontrollable elephant situation with conservation. The estate had no cash flow to erect elephant-proof fences.

I wanted to share a few words to introduce Beyers to you as his wife.

I believe that we should take our hands and start an economy in rural areas not only to create jobs but to teach and develop the skills of the leaders of tomorrow, our South African children. We can only do that by hope, faith, and perseverance. I have lost so much in life that I can only give and in return receive joy from a humble humanitarian.

Una Coetzee

From everyone linked to Loziba, we wanted to thank Beyers for his vision, belief, commitment, and sacrifice to a reserve that was so close to his heart.