UCT prof dies of injuries

2005-02-05 22:33

Johannesburg - A University of Cape Town (UCT) associate professor who was attacked and severely injured by a student, died on Saturday, the university said.

Brian Hahn, 58, died at Cape Town's Vincent Pallotti Hospital shortly after 13:00, the university's Vice-Chancellor Njabulo Ndebele said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this time," Ndebele said, adding that the "university community" was shocked by Hahn's death.

"UCT has lost a colleague, a teacher and a scientist of outstanding quality and extraordinary calibre. Brian has served UCT well. His death is an enormous loss."

Hahn, a member of the university's mathematics and applied mathematics department, was assaulted on campus by a former student on January 28.

Maleafisha Steve Tladi, 35, who also previously held a temporary post in the department, was arrested and appeared in court on a charge of attempted murder. He is an ex-PhD student.

Tladi was granted bail on condition he not enter UCT premises and does not interfere with any of the witnesses.

It is alleged that Tladi attacked Hahn with an umbrella before repeatedly hitting him once he had fallen to the ground.

Hahn's wife Cleone said her husband suffered severe facial fractures. As a result of his injuries he suffered a stroke a day after the attack and was paralysed on one side of his body.

Tladi's case would start in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on March 1.

Hahn is survived by his wife Cleone Hahn, his three children -- Lyndall, André and David - and Christine, his only granddaughter.

The science faculty's acting dean, Professor Anton le Roex, said Hahn's reactions to various situations "always reflected his caring and humble nature".

"Brian was a gentle and caring person. Brian has always been very gracious to his colleagues," Le Roex said.

Hahn was born in Cape Town on November 21, 1946.

After completing his BSc in applied mathematics and physics and his BSc (Hons) in theoretical physics at UCT, he undertook a PhD (Optimisation of Scattering Amplitudes) at the University of Cambridge.

Hahn worked as a senior lecturer at Wits University's applied mathematics department between 1973 and 1979, and later joined UCT as a senior lecturer.

He later became associate professor. He wrote over 10 books to teach programming languages to beginners.

"He was an extremely popular lecturer of undergraduate courses in Applied Mathematics and had just completed a six-month sabbatical period devoted to research.

"He was due to start lecturing again in mid-February. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cleone, his wife and his family," Ndebele said.