University of Zululand devastated after popular professor shot dead

University of Zululand. (Supplied)
University of Zululand. (Supplied)

The University of Zululand's Dean of the faculty of arts, Professor Gregory Kamwendo, has been killed in a shooting at his home in Empangeni, leaving his colleagues devastated.

"Professor Kamwendo was shot dead at his residence in Empangeni after 17:00 yesterday afternoon [Tuesday]," said spokesperson Gcina Nhleko-Mdluli on behalf of the institution.
"Professor Kamwendo was a knowledge fountain and he will be sorely missed by the entire Unizulu community," said Nhleko-Mdluli.

He served the university from 2016, following his tenure as the Dean of the College of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Breaking the news to students and staff on social media site Facebook, the university extended its condolences to Kamwendo's family and called for calm while the shooting is investigated.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said police had opened a murder investigation after a 53-year-old man was shot by two people while in his vehicle, as he arrived at his home in Durford Road, Empangeni, around 17:15 on Tuesday.

"He sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body and was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. The motive for the killing is unknown at this stage," said Mbhele.

'UniZulu will never be the same’

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Higher Education also expressed its shock, with chairperson Connie September calling for the culprits to be caught and punished.

"Academia has lost, UniZulu will never be the same without this inquisitive mind, whose only interest was to educate the African child,” said September on behalf of the committee.

She wished Kamwendo's family, colleagues, students and the wider research community of UniZulu comfort.

"Indeed South Africa has lost," added September.

The university recently appointed Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as it chancellor.

In a note of welcome from his time at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, that institution provided some biographical details of the professor who believed teaching and learning was best done in a person's home language.

He obtained his Diploma in Education and Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Malawi, a Masters degree in Language Studies from Lancaster University in England, and a PhD from Helsinki University in Finland, UKZN wrote.

Long university career

Kamwendo's academic career began at the University of Malawi in 1990, where he was employed as a staff associate in the Department of English. He was seconded to the Centre for Language Studies as a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director for six years.

After receiving his PhD from Helsinki University in 2004, he returned to Malawi briefly and then joined the University of Botswana's Faculty of Education as a senior lecturer in language education.

In 2007, he was appointed Head of the Department of Languages and Social Sciences Education and was also promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

A further promotion in 2010 saw Kamwendo reach the rank of full Professor of Language Education at the university, where he served as Head of Department of Languages and Social Sciences.

In 2017, an online publication apologised to him and a former colleague for running an article accusing them of plagiarising work.

"The Press Ombudsman found that the story, written by a freelance journalist, was unsubstantiated and unfair to both professors," the Daily Vox said.

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