Grain SA stalwart dies after Covid-19 battle

A well-known Free State farmer and former chairperson of Grain SA, Bully Botma, has died. He has recently had Covid-19. Botma was part of the team who first hosted former president Nelson Mandela in Bothaville in 1992

Not to be Missed

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Grain SA has this evening confirmed the death of Bully Botma, a Free State farmer and former chairperson of the commodity organisation. Food For Mzansi has reliably learnt that the veteran agriculturist recently had Covid-19 and also suffered a heart attack.

Bully Botma farmed just outside Bothaville in the Free State until his death. Photo: Supplied/Grain SA
Bully Botma farmed just outside Bothaville in the Free State until his death. Photo: Supplied/Grain SA

Botma played an instrumental role in the advancement of South Africa’s grain industry. He was first elected to the senior management team of the GPO in 1999. In this year, he served as the former Grain Producers’ Organisation vice-chairperson and from 2000 to 2005 he was also chairperson of Grain SA.

Furthermore, Botma helped to position Nampo Harvest Day into one of the southern hemisphere’s largest agricultural exhibitions under private ownership. He served as Harvest Day chairperson from 1989 to 2001.

Under his leadership, the organisation hosted former president Nelson Mandela and Trevor Manuel during their historic visit to Bothaville in the Free State in 1992. At the time, Manuel was the head of the ANC’s department of economic planning. 

Hosting Madiba in Bothaville

According to a 2016 historic overview of the grain and oilseed industry of South Africa, the meeting with Mandela took place under great secrecy. At the time, Nampo was unsure about the possible reaction from farmers upon the visit by the high-level ANC delegation.

Special security measures were in place and Mandela’s aircraft touched down in Bothaville at the same time as the beginning of local church services.

Throughout his agricultural career, Botma has received a number of awards. In 2005, Grain SA honoured him for his loyal service to the organisation. He also counted among the stalwarts who received Grain SA’s Goue Mieliepit award (“Gold Maize Kernel award”) in 1996, at the time the highest honour bestowed by Nampo.

This evening, Nico Vermaak, manager: corporate services at Grain SA, told Food For Mzansi that Botha played an instrumental role in the senior management teams of both Nampo and Grain SA.

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He said, “Bully has served the grain farmers of South Africa in various forums, committees and trusts. Grain SA salutes one of its greats.”

ALSO READ: Economist and farmer appointed as new Grain SA boss

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