Tributes pour in for Stellenbosch University rector Russel Botman

2014-06-28 15:55

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Professor Russel Botman, rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, was hailed as an inspiration following news of his death.

The university said today in a statement that Botman died in his sleep at his Stellenbosch home last night.

The University of the Witwatersrand praised Botman for his contribution to education and South African society.

“Professor Botman has been an influential and inspiring figure in the higher education landscape, leading one of our top universities through important periods of growth and transition,” it said.

“Professor Botman has, of course, also played a much wider role on the South African stage, giving farsighted leadership to our society in transition and playing an important role in addressing social fabric issues.”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba praised Botman for the special concern he showed for poor and disadvantaged students, creating an enabling environment for them to succeed.

“Russell’s contribution, especially within the ecumenical movement, will be remembered and hopefully recorded,” he said in a statement.

“May this great South African – a husband, a preacher, teacher, an ecumenist and a leader – rest in peace.”

DA leader Helen Zille said that Botman had enriched the lives of many South Africans and would be sorely missed.

“In my encounters with Professor Botman, I was always encouraged to see that SA had dedicated men and women committed to seeing our education centers constantly improved and developed.”

AfriForum Youth chairperson Henk Maree said: “Prof Botman dedicated his life to academics and the promotion of quality tertiary education in the country.”

Earlier, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said Botman’s death was a loss to educational institutions.

“He demonstrated that black people can manage complex educational institutions splendidly and we were very proud of him,” Tutu said. He described Botman as a precocious and courageous young church leader who emerged in the struggle against apartheid to stir up the established church leadership.

The Stellenbosch municipality also paid tribute to Botman.

“Botman had so much more to offer in terms of leadership, a vision for promoting justice, transformation and reconciliation.

“The world has been left poorer because of his death,” municipal spokesperson Vernon Bowers said.

The municipality would continue to promote Botman’s ideals.

“The university, Stellenbosch, SA and the world lost a leader who fought for justice, transformation and reconciliation since his days as a student at the University of the Western Cape,” Bowers said.

All conveyed their condolences to Botman’s family and friends.

The SABC reported that Botman joined Stellenbosch University in 2000 as a professor in the department of practical theology and missiology. In 2002. he was appointed vice-rector.

He was an internationally-known theologian who advised the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva on several topics.

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