Wednesday last week (19th October 2011) was a very sad day, not only for the legal industry, but also for those who were close to Cas Viljoen. Cas' life tragically ended at the 12 Apostles, Camps Bay, Cape Town on Wednesday.
He is survived by his partner Mujiono Viljoen, his sister Jacqui Truter and brother Pauli Viljoen.
I want to share a few things that I remember about Cas.
Years ago, Cas was a software dealer for the company I worked for and because he was so meticulous about what he did for himself and his clients, we would often get "baie die moer in" from the requests that Cas would send in. But we would then discover that Cas was correct and that we needed to change something for the system to work as it should. His reward for his work, he said, was that the customer was now getting what they needed.
At the time of my leaving this company, the dealership was being prematurely terminated. Cas tried extremely hard to reverse the radical decision as he was concerned for his staff that were dedicated to supporting the software, but to no avail.
Cas then dug deeper into the reporting of conveyancing and how he could add extra value to the conveyancing market. He then launched iDeed, the Deeds Office tracking system, through close guidance from STBB conveyancing department. This system was unique and practical, allowing for easy tracking at the Deeds Office through the use of bar codes and the use of 3G communications.
At the same time Cas was busy being the brainchild behind the SearchWorks system, which was a very light, quick and functional search tool for legal firms in South Africa. The development started and I'm sure there were a lot of "Cas, ek is die moer in met jou" from the developers, but Cas would have put them right and swamped them in the correct legal and systematic processors that were needed for the system to work as well as it does now.
I joined Cas and his team to start working on iDeed sales and marketing - it was a challenging time for us as we were funding the development and the extra staff through our personal bonds. While working with Cas, I would often walk into his office and say "Cas ek is die moer in met jou" - he would look away from his multiple computer screens and reply, "Malcolm, why are you cross with me?" Of course I would ramble away with what I thought was quite justified, until he would reply with all the facts, figures and valid reasons as to why things were as they were. Of course he was right and I would then see his valid reasoning.
When I would fly to Cape Town, Cas would always arrange one of his personal cars for my use, arrange a great first night supper to chat about the happenings at the company and ensured that my room at his house was always ready. (Thanks to Mujiono as well.) There was always my favourite bottle of Whisky in the drinks cabinet, a great touch since he and Mujiono did not drink much.
In May 2008 iDeed was acquired by Law Holdings and I started thinking about Tech4Law. From what I have heard, Cas was involved in many projects inside of Law, and offered great insight into the local conveyancing process. I'm sure his involvement will be sorely missed.
SeachWorks and LawDeed (iDeed) have become great products and have created great efficiencies in the local conveyancing process - Cas' way of seeing the gap for a system to be developed was something very special and I'm really sad he will not be part of designing and shaping the legal technology landscape going forward.
Cas, thanks for all you have done, not only for the industry, but for inviting me into your great dynamic company - it was just what the doctor ordered for me.
In conclusion, "Cas, ek is baie die moer in met jou...."
(Mujiono - it means "Cas, I'm cross with you.")
Rest in Peace Cas.
From Chris Pearson:
Every twenty years or so, someone comes along and changes the way in which South African law firms use technology. One such person was Cas Viljoen. Although Cas started out as a successful computer dealer, it was his subsequent business with L@WDeed's SearchWorks where he left his mark on the industry. Being web-based and easier to use than the competition, SearchWorks quickly made significant inroads into the traditional desktop search market. It didn't stop there - and Cas introduced a number of new products into the mix, further upping the ante.
Cas was an accomplished piano player and a qualified winemaker, although those who knew him will know that his passion for business left little time for anything else.
Rest in peace Cas. You will be missed.