Tycoon killed in chopper crash

2011-12-21 00:00

LEADING businessman Arie Neven was killed yesterday when his helicopter clipped a foefie slide cable near Sun City and crashed.

The slide, the Zip 2000, is apparently the world’s fastest (riders in harnesses can reach speeds of up to 150 km/h) and longest at two kilometres.

Family members and friends yesterday collected Neven’s personal belongings, incSKluding his wallet, and clothes from the veld around the crash site.

The wreckage of the Bell Jet Ranger 206 lay near the start point of the slide, on a 280-metre koppie about three kilometres from the resort.

Neven (52), a director of the JD Group, was alone in the five-seater chopper. He took off from Wonderboom airport in Pretoria yesterday morning to fetch friends at Bakubung, west of Sun City.

He was killed on impact, said ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said Neven was in a no-fly zone when he hit the cable at about 9 am.

A family spokesperson said they would not issue a statement.

Curious onlookers who drove to the accident scene were trying to creep under police tape cordoning off the scene to take pictures of the wreckage, even while Civil Aviation Authority personnel were investigating.

Neven was one of the most experienced leaders in the South African furniture industry.

He had more than 31 years’ experience in furniture sales and at various times served as CEO of furniture merchants Price ’n Pride, Joshua Doore and Bradlows.

David Sussman, executive chairperson of the group and a friend and colleague of Neven for many years, described him as an “incredible man”.

“It is difficult to believe that such a lively guy is no longer here. I was still speaking to him on the phone this morning.

“It’s a helluva shock for us all,” Sussman said yesterday.

He said he had known Neven for 31 years and was his colleague for more than 25 years, from the time Neven had started with the group in 1986.

“Arie had a lot of energy and an incredible amount of experience. He was part of the company. Someone like him cannot be replaced.”

Sussman said Neven was an enthusiastic pilot. One of his sons, also named Arie, is also a pilot.

Neven leaves a wife, Santie, and a second son, Hannes.

“I spoke to Arie’s brother soon after the accident. The family are totally heartbroken. Arie is truly going to be missed.”

Arie Neven: Crash ends 25-year career wth leading furniture group

He worked his way up to operations executive of Joshua Doore and Price 'n Pride, after which he became CEO of the joint Price 'n Pride/Score chain.

Neven subsequently also served as CEO of Joshua Doore and Bradlows.

He was CEO of Bradlows for three years before being appointed CEO of the JD Group's operations sections, which meant heading up 400 outlets in the group.

He went on to become CEO of all credit retail operating chains in the group, managing eight chains with 949 outlets.


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