Remembering Godfrey Mathebula

Written by: Liryn De Jager - Motswari 

The untimely death last month of Godfrey Mathebula at the age of 44 left the Greater Kruger in shock. He was the assistant general manager of Motswari Private Game Reserve at the time of his passing.

Fondly known as the “Man with a Million Dollar Smile” for his great stories and hearty laugh, Godfrey’s story was deeply rooted in the fabric of the Motswari family. It stretched back to his days growing up on Java Camp where his parents were the caretakers of Paul Geiger’s original property in the Greater Kruger.

The Geiger family supported him through school and he then followed in his father’s footsteps, securing a position in the maintenance workshop at Motswari.

But the bush was calling and it wasn’t long before he obtained the highest guiding qualifications. He had been a mentor to many young guides entering the industry as well as an important member of the FGASA management structures.

Says Motswari owner Marion Geiger:

“Godfrey was my bush brother, I knew him from birth. It’s a long and deep connection we had, as my father raised us both to care for this beautiful nature, to be its custodians.”

Heartfelt messages of condolences and beautiful memories about Godfrey have poured in from all over the world in the last month. One thing has stood out – wherever Godfrey went, he left an incredible impression and impact on people’s lives.

Whether it was guests staying a short time at Motswari, a new guide learning from the best for a couple of weeks, a worker at a neighbouring farm needing his help, a landowner or warden seeking his wisdom or being part of the Motswari management for years.

Godfrey was well respected in the Timbavati community. His knowledge of the bush and his insight into the relationship between the land and the people was without equal.

For Marion, it’s bittersweet remembering Godfrey.

“We never got tired of sitting and chatting about any topic, he was an extremely caring man. He was a unique storyteller and loved to laugh at his own antics. He would have full tables riveted in the boma listening to his every word, He had promised Fabrice (Marion’s husband and Motswari co-owner) he would never leave Motswari, it was his home.”

Godfrey was a family man and providing for the education of his young children was very important for him. His sudden passing has left a gaping hole. Should you wish to help with or contribute towards his children’s education, please contact Motswari Private Game Reserve directly.