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Manufacturing Indaba 2018

Dave Erasmus retires from The Witness

Dave Erasmus is retiring from The Witness today after 46 years with the company. He started at The Witness fresh from his Matric year at Estcourt, High School, in the advertising department of newspaper in 1966 and rose to classified advertising manager.
Later on, the portfolio of Promotions and events, which included responsibility for staging events like the Witness Garden Show, the Open Gardens, The Witness Hilton Arts Festival and the Capital Climb, and bringing personalities like Destiny editor, Khanyi Dhlomo, Alec Hogg and Kingsley Holgate and many others to the city, was added. He was subsequently promoted to the position of GM national sales and marketing with responsibility for national advertising and liaison through the company's national representatives ADS24.

A respected brand

"Very few people get to work for a company that has the "serious history" behind it that The Witness has. A hundred and sixty six years of service to the community brings with it a certain respect and gravitas and even a sense of ownership on the part of readers, which makes working for such a title, really special. That it was until very recently, also a family business and the last independent newspaper in the country, made for a unique working environment, where management decisions were easily made and implemented," says Erasmus.

When he started at the paper, production processes were very different to today, says Erasmus. "It was still the era of 'hot-metal' where every line of type in the paper was a stick of metal with the words in reverse relief, along the top of the stick. A proof of a newspaper page was achieved by assembling literally hundreds of such lines (in the correct sequence) sometimes with a pictures, acid-etched onto metal, and locking them up in a frame, before applying an ink roller and then a sheet of paper over the page, to achieve an impression."

We've come a long way

"That was just the start of a laborious process which saw the printed version of 30 or more such pages, in black and white, come off a thundering, two-storey press in a basement in Longmarket Street, to appear on the streets, the next morning.

"Print technology has brought us a long way from those days," he says and producing a paper every 24 hours, was very much more of a miracle than it is today, where we take full colour reproduction and computer-to-the-final-page technology, for granted.

"It's been a good 46 years and I'll miss the people I have worked with, but I'm looking forward to getting out of the hurley-burley of newspapers, and to enjoy a more relaxed style of life," he says"

Witness editor Angela Quintal:

"Dave's retirement is a huge loss for the company, given his institutional knowledge, contacts, commitment and his reputation as 'Mr Witness'. However, just because he's retiring, doesn't mean that we won't be leaning on him for advice and guidance.

"We have his number and we know where he lives.

"Thanks Dave for a tremendous innings and flying the Witness flag as well as you have."

Erasmus plans to pursue other interests and looks forward to being able to devote more time to spiritual activities, as a member of one of the local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses, where he serves as an elder, to some travel, and to just taking time out at home, with his wife Kathy.