Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) head of residences Siyabulela Thwalani was killed in what his union denounced as “a ghastly orchestrated hit”.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said Mr Thwalani’s “cold-blooded murder” outside a friend’s home in Khayelitsha on Saturday November 4, had sent shock waves through the university and community.
Mr Thwalani headed the troubled institution’s residences on its Cape Town campus. Police said Mr Thwalani sustained gunshot wounds to his head and face. He was declared dead on the scene. Nothing was stolen and no one has been arrested.
“Our grief and anger is tearing us apart. However, we are consoled by the confidence we have in the justice system. What has happened is a national tragedy that has touched thousands of people, across the political and all other divides around the country,” Nehawu said in a
In a statement to CPUT students, the institution’s Student Affairs Department said: “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the untimely and tragic passing of Siyabulela Thwalani – HOD of residences: Cape Town. Mr Thwalani was shot several times in his vehicle on Saturday afternoon and passed away at the scene.
“On behalf of all staff and students we wish to convey our sincerest condolences to his family and ask that you continue to keep them in your prayers.”
The institution said a memorial service was being arranged and staff and students would be notified as soon as the arrangements had been finalised in consultation with Mr Thwalani’s family.
On Monday November 6, condolences poured in to Mr Thwalani’s family, with some taking to social media to share their memories of a person they described as a leader and people’s person.
Mr Thwalani’s murder was a great loss to Khayelitsha residents, said his friend and Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson Ndithini Tyhido.
“We condemn this barbaric act with the contempt it deserves,” he said.
“Beyond just condemning, it’s a pity that these thugs, or whoever did this, do not know how much they have taken from the community of Khayelitsha. Siya was a very energetic young person who advocated for education. We are very angry at his murder.”
The murder comes as CPUT grapples with violent student protests that have led to property damage.
It said it uncovered illicit items inside its residences, including petrol bombs, used smoke grenades and rubber bullets.
Friends and family said they were puzzled by the murder. Nephew Thanduxolo Sithekele told the Cape Times that an unknown man fled to a vehicle after opening fire on his uncle.
“The report that we received was that my uncle had dropped off one of his friends at home. After he parked, someone approached his car from the direction his car was facing and shot him, and ran back to a car and drove away,” said Mr Sithekele.
He said they were caught by surprise as Mr Thalwani had not been involved in wrongdoing.
“Our family has been finding it difficult to deal with this because of the way it happened. At this point and because he wasn’t involved in any wrong things, it is very difficult to establish the motive (for his killing). We have left this for the police to investigate and the law to take its course. We cannot speculate at this time.”
Mr Sithekele said Mr Thwalani had worked for CPUT for about 10 years.
“Siya loved education. He did not like violence and was a very quiet person.
“He encouraged a lot of people to get educated. Even where he comes from, in Ugie in the Eastern Cape, there are people who got an education through him, including myself. I am also a graduate because of him,” he said.