An environmentalist to the end

Sello Rasethaba

Sello Rasethaba

Makgabo Rufus Maruma was always destined for greater heights. His life is worth celebrating.

I remember Maruma as the homeboy who always vividly reminded me of my sleeping bag and the conditions under which we lived during our days as students.

About 20 of us, young students, having a party in a big city, far away from rural Limpopo, forced to take turns to sleep because the flat had one bedroom only and a lounge-cum-kitchen. This was not at some squatter camp in Johannesburg, but in the heart of London, England.

These are the humble beginnings that Maruma, who became Newsmaker of the Year at age 38, never forgot to mention to his homeboys whenever an opportunity arose.

He was founder and chairman of Bohlweki Environmental, which he used as a vehicle to end up as a director of JSE-listed Stewart Scott International, Palabora Mining Company, Group Five and EnviroServ Holdings.

He believed in a sustainable environment. He was once chairman of the SA Council for Natural Scientific Professions and the Task Team for National Environmental Policy in South Africa. He was also a member of the SanParks board. Maruma was an intellectual in his own right. He addressed national and international conferences, including the UN Council for Sustainable Development. He was representative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a delegate of the International Chamber of Commerce to the UN. He reviewed environmental impact assessments for many international projects.

Maruma was a philanthropist and never allowed success to blind him. He believed that wealth was not an end in itself but must be shared with the less fortunate.

He shared the view that life is a permanent dialogue in which each participant pays attention to the other, and cannot progress without the other in an environment with a favourable culture, a climate of respect and trust. May your soul rest in peace homeboy!