Remembering Benno Krieg

Yet another prominent figure in the forestry industry - Benno Krieg – has passed away as a result of Covid-19. Benno passed on Sunday 25 July 2021 in Windhoek, while he was on holiday.

Benno was a colourful character and forest engineering specialist who played a leading role in mechanising Komatiland’s forestry harvesting operations a few years back. He was very knowledgeable and highly opinionated, and was always asking the tough questions at forestry symposiums and conferences.

Benno held a Bachelor’s Degree in Nature Conservation and a Forestry B.Sc from the University of Stellenbosch, where he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Forest Engineering (M.Sc).

Benno launched his career in forestry with the Department of Forestry in Sabie, Nelspruit and Louis Trichardt, as a district manager and researcher. He spent over two decades (from 1994 to 2015) as a forestry engineer with Komatiland Forests, the commercial wing of the South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL). During this period Benno was responsible for introducing cut-to-length mechanized harvesting systems for both clearfell and thinning operations on Komatiland’s Mpumalanga plantations.

After leaving Komatiland Forests, Benno joined Bostek harvesting contractors as GM and consultant for around two years. Francois Roos, who worked with Benno at Bostek, commented: “A friend, colleague, advisor, team member, mentor, and bank of information has passed on and left a void no person can fill. He was very knowledgeable on all aspects of machinery and always contributed enthusiastically to any project he was asked to assist with. Numerous forestry handbooks, booklets, manuals, and guidelines had his name rightfully added and these will continue to guide operations and people for years to come. Benno always helped where he could and loved sharing his knowledge. He was strong-willed, opinionated, hardworking and determined, and always ready to share and give generously. He was continuously searching for new ways, methods, angles, and information, keeping him up to date and always relevant. He was convinced there must be a better, more refined way of doing things. He would number all versions of his workings and meticulously file them in sequence. A good argument and discussion with Benno would always leave you richer and with many positives. His smile and laughter which filled our offices, meetings, classrooms, boardrooms, lecture halls and vehicles will be missed.”

After his stint at Bostek Benno moved to Hitachi Construction Machinery as the Nelspruit Area Service Representative in 2019. His role was control of the Nelspruit Service Department with the responsibilities of after-market support for repairs and servicing of Hitachi excavators, wheeled loaders and off-highway trucks. Included in his portfolio was satellite monitoring of units in the field, customer liaison and advice, and pre-delivery inspections of new machines.

Richard Blaylock, Branch Manager at Hitachi Construction Machinery Southern Africa Co (Pty) Ltd, recalls: “From inception Benno was noted for his infectious laugh which would reverberate throughout the offices. Never did he announce his arrival; his laugh would give him away. On the work front, he will be sadly missed for his astute approach to planning and execution in typical German fashion. Benno’s philosophy was to learn from mistakes and do things once and do it correctly. This was coupled with his motivation of staff - always in a friendly manner - and he never had a bad word to say, an indication of his dedication and hard-working nature.”

Ronald Heath of Forestry South Africa had this to say about Benno: “Throughout his career Benno constructively contributed to our sector. He will be remembered for his prominent role in FESA and his contribution to the establishment of the FSA Applied Operations Committee.”

A private family man, Benno enjoyed photography and nature. A devoted Christian, he always shared his Christian values and never compromised on what he believed was right.

Benno leaves his wife Noreen and sons Stefan and Daniel.