Tobias to be buried at West Park Cemetry

By Drum Digital
08 June 2012

Leading South African palaeo-anthropologist Professor Phillip Tobias would be buried at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand announced.

The hominid evolution expert, who died at the age of 86 at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg on Thursday, would be buried at 10.45am in the Jewish burial section on Sunday, spokeswoman Shirona Patel said in a statement.

She said the university and his faculty would hold a memorial service for Tobias. Details would be announced shortly.

The SA Medical Association (Sama) celebrated Tobias' contribution to his field on Friday.

"Prof Tobias' globally acknowledged achievements and massive contribution in both science and medicine over the last six decades markedly elevated South Africa's status as a major contributor to the global scientific arena," acting chairman Dr Mark Sonderup said in a statement.

He also paid homage to Tobias' role in the fight against racism and as a champion of human rights.

"Many of our members will have fond memories of this warm, generous, intensely conscientious and caring academic giant of our time. In his own words, he did not leave a genetic legacy but rather a cultural one, orally transmitted, through education."

Sonderup extended Sama's condolences to his family, former colleagues and former students.

"Whilst we are very saddened by his passing, his legacy and impact of his life will endure forever."

President Jacob Zuma, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, the Democratic Alliance, Gauteng Tourism Authority and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau were among those who paid tribute to Tobias on Thursday.

Tobias was thrice nominated for a Nobel prize and was the only person to hold three professorships simultaneously at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The professor also successfully campaigned for the Sterkfontein Caves to be proclaimed a World Heritage site and was instrumental in the process to have the remains of Saartjie Bartmann returned to South Africa.

Tobias was the recipient of many awards and honours, including honorary degrees from the universities of Pennsylvania, Cambridge, California, Natal, Cape Town, Durban-Westville, Western Ontario, Alta, Guelph, and the Witwatersrand.

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