“The sun rises for farm workers as they come together
with grape grower Peu Bezuidenhout in a unique new partnership.”
Rekopane - “We are together” or “We
Loretlhabetse - “The sun has risen for us”
REKOPANE ESTATE is a partnership between
the owner of Naftali Estates, Mr Peu Bezuidenhout, and
the Lorethabetse Trust, which consists of 65 workers
of Naftali Estates.
NAFTALI ESTATES, which comprise the
farms Naftali, Monte and Summerdown and which belongs
to the Bezuidenhout family, is one of South Africa’s
best known seedless grape growers. It is located on
the banks of the mighty Orange River near Kanoneiland,
west of Upington in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
Monte Estate was sold in February 2008
Naftali is a Biblical Name meaning that “I have
fought and I have conquered”. This very much represents
the pioneering spirit which Peu Bezuidenhout, his family
and staff has shown in the development of the farm.
The first 6 hectares of land was bought in 1979 and
used to cultivate rotational crops. When it was realized
that the extreme temperatures between winter and summer,
the fertile soil and a steady supply of water from the
Orange River represent all the ingredients for the production
of high quality table grapes, Naftali embarked on a
Now, some 30 years later, the sweet and juicy grapes
from this region has become the benchmark for producers
elsewhere in the world. Naftali and growers in its surrounding
district are now South Africa’s leading grape
And with it comes the birth of Rekopane which will open
up a new chapter in this fine tradition of fruit growing.
Rekopane is a Tswane word and is the start of an exciting
new era, because Peu Bezuidenhout and his workers have
indeed “come together” to establish a new
Through the establishment of the Loretlhabetse Trust,
65 farm workers and their families who have helped to
establish this successful grape farming operation are
now becoming shareholders in Rekopane. The word Loretlhabetse
means “the sun has risen for us.” The workers
will own 25% of Rekopane and will have 26% of the voting
Although they are not direct shareholders, both the
Department of Land Affairs and one of South Africa’s
best known commercial banks, Standard Bank, are considered
to be most important Rekopane partners. The Department
of Land Affairs has allocated ELRAD funds and Standard
Bank has contributed in the form of a loan to enable
the shareholders to take up their shareholding. Both
are also supplying ongoing support for the project.
REKOPANE now consists of 528 hectares of land of which
212 hectares are planted with table grapes. Future expansion
of fresh fruit production will include 68 hectares of
new table grape varieties and 60 hectares of citrus
fruit. The new orchards and vineyards will be developed
over the next three years. Rekopane also produces 1,400
tons of wine grapes on 23 hectares. The varieties are
Colombard and Steen and the grapes are pressed at the
Oranjerivier Wine cellar. A further 22 hectares of Sultana
vineyards are utilised for raisins of which 176 tons
are produced each year.
There is also a growing rose and herb production, a
guest house, liqueur store, 2 farm shops and a wedding
and function venue concludes the business activities.
The production of table grapes have always been the
core business. The best of South African seedless grapes
are grown in the vineyards of Rekopane, including Prime,
Flame Seedless, Surgraone, Thompson Seedless and Crimson
Seedless. Seeded varieties that produces grapes of exceptional
quality are Victoria.
All the orchards have been certified in terms of the
international environmental and food safety standerds
of EurepGap and Tesco’s Nature’s Choice.
Rekopane’s evironmental policies is aimed at sustainable
agriculture and protection of indigenous plants and
wild life are part of the way of life among the people
Rekopane’s people nurture and care for their
grapes from the moment the little bunches are formed
in the spring. When they are ripe, grapes are harvested
and cooled down immediately to remove the field heat
and retain optimum quality.
Rekopane’s modern pack house have received the
highest level of international certification in the
form of BRC, the standard of the British Retail Convention.
After packing and recooling, the grapes are dispatched
for sale to leading customers according to fixed programmes.
Rekopane has an excellent information system and customers
and service providers can constantly stay in touch with
activities in the orchards and pack house through the
website – www.rekopane-estates.com
REKOPANE IS A PEOPLE ORIENTATED BUSINESS
During the peak harvesting months from November to
February some 1000 people are employed at Rekopane.
During the rest of the year this figure drops down to
around 340, including the 65 new shareholders in the
Leretlhabetse Trust, who now owns 25% of Rekopane.
Rekopane now incorporates the farms Naftali, Monte
and Sommerdown. Peu Bezuidenhout is the majority shareholder
with 75%. The equity stake for the 25% shareholding
of the Loretlhabetse Trust was raised through a grant
from the government ELRAD funds, as well as through
a loan from Standard Bank.
Monte Estate was sold in February 2007 to further establish
plantations for greater production of earlier ripening
The Chairman of the Loretlhabetse Trust is Jack de
Wee, who, along with Peu Bezuidenhout, are the only
directors of Rekopane.
In order to achieve the maximum transparency the shareholders
of the Lorathlabetse Trust has appointed an outside
independent trustee in the person of Ms Connie Seoposengwe,
Speaker of the Northern Cape Government.
Profile of shareholder group:
AGE GROUP MEN: AGE
20 years = 8 20
years = 2
30 years = 18
years = 6
40 years = 18
years = 4
50 years = 6
years = 3
TOTAL NUMBER OF SHAREHOLDERS = 65
WOMEN = 15
MEN = 50
35 YEARS & YOUNGER = 26
DISABLED = 2
BACKED BY TRAINING, SKILLS TRANSFER AND DEVELOPMENT:
Training, skills transfer and management is of crucial
importance to ensure succesful and sustainable production
of table grapes, wine grapes, raisins and citrus fruit.
The development of the citrus project will create additional
work during months of relatively low labour requirements.
People development is therefore of utmost importance
and all staff benefit from formal training and skills
transfer. Specific examples of this is the fact that
Ms Wilmien Draaier has qualified to manage the guest
house at Rekopane, and Ms Eveline Mealangwe manages
the production of roses in a tunnel. The farm shops
is managed by Ms Clara de Wee and Ms Angeline Prins.
The investment in people extends to social, cultural
and health enrichment in the wider farm community and
the local school and church receives strong support
from the Bezuidenhout family.
The People Development Programme at Rekopane has received
certification by the Investor in People Standard which
is based in the Unted Kingdom.
The entrepenieurial spirit of Peu Bezuidenhout is always
seeking out new peaks to conquer. The establishment
of a highly succesful fruit growing business which has
proved its sustainability during tough economic conditions
has been achieved through always being the best –
the best soils and cultivars, the best farming practices,
the best packaging and marketing, and, finally, the
best in people. The birth of Rekopane as a true ownership
partnership between grower and workers which sets new
standards in empowerment in South Africa.