South Africa: Public Behaviour


Colleagues or Business Associates Funerals

Such funerals should get preference over all other business commitments.

The company should send a wreath or bouquet to the family, or a donation to a chosen charity organisation.

A letter of condolence must be sent to the next of kin; this should be personally signed by the most senior person the deceased dealt with in the company.

Should it be a colleague from another company that passed away, a letter of condolence must be sent to the deceased person’s company.

If you represent your company at the funeral of a deceased colleague, be sure to sympathise personally with the bereaved family.

Ensure that you know and understand the procedures of funerals if the deceased is from a different culture. If you are unsure then ask someone.

Colleague Weddings

Ensure that your behaviour is above reproach and do not ruin your reputation, even though this is an out-of-the-office event.

Dress according to the event and the invitations dress code.

If you attend the wedding of a different culture, be prepared and know what to expect. Ask if you are unsure.

Gifts and cards do not need to be expensive, but must be tasteful and useful. Try and find out whether the couple has a gift list. It is becoming acceptable to give a monetary gift of a gift voucher.


In South Africa conferences are often held at the end of the financial year. This is done so that new products or services can be discussed, as well as the performance for the year and upcoming company goals.


This word is Afrikaans for “a counsel in the bush,” and literally involves a specific group of people spending time together in a rural venue, such as a wildlife retreat. This is very popular amongst senior business people that break away from the office to discuss strategies and issues.


Workshops have a shorter duration than conferences and bosberade, and are usually held onsite, rather than away from the company. Workshops provide an interactive way of learning, as they require the audience’s participation as the day progresses.


Personal Contact, Conversation and Table Manner etiquettes are all important and still need to be remembered during the above three mentioned functions

Dress codes are usually casual, or informal, with no eccentric colours or styles

By attending these types of events you will have an opportunity for relationship building, and by not attending them (even for family reasons) you could potentially damage your career. Rather take leave if you can’t attend.

If you attend such an event, be prepared to get involved in fun games and icebreakers. Functions such as workshops, conferences and bosberade take time to arrange, and they will ultimately be a good team building exercise for those involved.

The usual, acceptable behaviour, still applies to these events, even though they are less formal in nature.