The Eastern Cape education head of department, Themba Kojana, has died after a short illness. Kojana’s passing was confirmed by the Education MEC Fundile Gade on Thursday morning, without giving the cause of death.
Kojana is the second high ranking official in the department to die following the death of spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani last year.
According to the MEC, Kojana was admitted to hospital on Tuesday night. Gade said Kojana had dedicated his life to improving the education system in the province.
“We are in the eye of a storm, and we have lost a great leader who whole-heatedly dedicated his energy to transforming the sector. This has shattered us as the sector and the province. This comes at a time when the department had put its hope in his leadership for the realisation of a quality public education,” Gade said.
“Kojana served as a catalyst of the education transformation plan, which actually gave an upward trajectory of the improvement of results in the Eastern Cape and the efficiency of the systems we have.”
The MEC also paid homage to Kojana for his sterling work: “During his tenure, he managed to lead a team of dedicated officials who helped to position the department well, provincially and on the map.”
Gade said the department has lost a formidable leader who served the interest of all selflessly.
“He indeed was a public servant in the true sense of the word. His untimely departure will leave a huge gap in the province. My condolences go to his family, friends and loved ones,” said Gade.
Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, Premier Oscar Mabuyane’s spokesperson, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Kojana’s family, friends, colleagues, especially those in the department of education, during this difficult time as we are all processing this profound loss.
“While this statement is not a eulogy, we must appreciate Kojana’s extraordinary work in leading our department to improve Grade 12 results, the performance of other grades, improving teaching, learning in our schools and for ensuring stability at the department of education,” Sicwetsha said.
Yusuf Cassim, the DA’s provincial education spokesperson, also paid tribute: “Kojana made a contribution to education in the province and was always willing to subject himself to the democratic process. He will leave a vacuum at the top at a very critical time for education in the Eastern Cape.
“He was never obstructive and was always willing to deploy staff members to attend to queries submitted by the DA and other parties.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. We wish them courage and strength in this difficult time,” said Cassim.