Stellenbosch University
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Five SU students pass away
Author: Corporate Communication and Marketing Division / Afdeling Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking
Published: 26/08/2020

It is with great sadness that Stellenbosch University (SU) has learnt of the passing of five valued persons who were studying at the University.

“As a university community we are deeply saddened by the loss of our students, and wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and fellow students during this time of sorrow," said Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, SU's Vice-Rector: Learning and Teaching.

Ms Brightness Nomphumelelo  Mkoko

Ms Brightness Nomphumelelo  Mkoko, who was enrolled for the BTh (blended learning) programme, passed away on 23 June 2020. She was a formidable woman, church leader and pastor in an Independent Church.

She worked very hard to reach her goals and tackled the new phase in her life as part-time student with resolve and humour, despite its many challenges. She had a beautiful singing voice and always led the group. It is truly sad that she was working so hard to reach her dreams when she suddenly passed away. She is survived by her four children and two grandchildren.

Prof Lungile Pepeta

Prof Lungile Pepeta, an acclaimed paediatric cardiologist, was completing his PhD in Paediatrics at our Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Pepeta was the executive dean of Nelson Mandela University's Faculty of Health Sciences and part of a 15-member panel advising the Eastern Cape provincial government on COVID-19. He was a visionary leader who fiercely advocated for health of this provinces' children in particular. He was well-respected in the medical fraternity, with a passion to serve especially the children of the Eastern Cape through in his chosen sub-specialty, paediatric cardiology.

It is our honour that he chose Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to register for his PhD – in Paediatric Cardiology, which was near completion at the time of his death. The Faculty is deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of a colleague, friend and fellow student.  

Sister Nelani Shabalala

Sister Nelani Shabalala was a professional nurse who passed away on Tuesday 4 August 2020. She was enrolled for the MPhil in HIV and AIDS Management in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Shabalala resided in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Ghirshwin Muller

Mr Ghirshwin Muller, who worked as a police officer in Piketberg, started studying at the Faculty of Theology in 2015 as a second-career student. He passed away on 17 August 2020. Muller was an excellent student, achieving high grades despite the challenges of commuting and supporting a young family. He also served on the Theological Student Committee and was very active as a Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URC SA) ministerial student. He attained his BTh degree in December 2018 and was in the process of completing his Postgraduate Diploma in Theology while working four shifts a week as a police officer. His lifelong dream of serving as a minister in URC SA was within reach after many years of academic and financial challenges and many sacrifices by his family. He leaves behind his wife, Maritza, and three children. The communities of Piketberg and the Faculty of Theology will long grieve our colleague, fellow-student and friend. The Faculty of Theology would like to thank CUM Books for its financial and other support for Muller for many years.

Mr Leon de Haas-Bronkhorst

PhD student Leon de Haas-Bronkhorst was studying at SU's Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences under the supervision of Prof Minka Woermann, and at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam under the supervision of Prof Willie van der Merwe. He passed away in Amsterdam and a memorial service was held for him in Sint Odiliënberg, Roermond in the Netherlands on 13 August 2020. He is survived by his wife, Mary.