Marais has retired with immediate effect after a family bereavement this year, which resulted in his requesting the board to expedite his retirement.
Marais first informed the group about his plans to retire on September 18.
The group expects a smooth transition as Engelbrecht has been with Safari for five years.
Engelbrecht occupied the role of company secretary, legal counsel and development manager and had worked closely with Marais during this period.
In paying tribute to Marais, the new chief executive said: “I am looking forward to this new and exciting role at Safari, fully appreciating the void Francois will leave behind, but also very enthusiastic to lead this excellent team to ensure that Safari continues to grow,” Engelbrecht said.
Marais, however, will not be completely lost to the group as he has been appointed as the non-executive chairperson of the board, also with immediate effect.
“Dr Philip Snyman, the current chairperson will remain as an independent non-executive director and Francois will be supported by the lead independent non-executive director, Allan Wentzel,” the group said.
In the year to March and during Marais’s last set of financial results, the group reported a 21 percent increase in revenue to R248.65 million, up from R204.97m last year, and the final distribution increased by 6.25 percent to 34c a share, up from 32c compared to last year.
Safari said it was deeply indebted and grateful for the contribution made by Marais to the company and extended its heartfelt condolences to the entire Marais family and wished him well in his retirement.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the board and the management team and hope that I am able to continue to contribute to the success of Safari in my retirement as non-executive chairperson.
"I have the utmost confidence in Dirk and can assure shareholders that he will make a success of his new role and continue to strengthen Safari in the future,” Marais said.
Safari shares rose 1.96 percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R5.20.