Outgoing Wits University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adam Habib has described the passing of Professor Belinda Bozzoli as a tragic loss for higher education in the country. He was speaking at a memorial service for Bozzoli at the university in Johannesburg.
Habib says at the height of the Fees Must Fall protests, he sought Bozzoli’s counsel. Bozzoli, who had been on Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, passed away last Saturday at the age of 75 after a battle with cancer.
She completed her BA and Honours degrees at Wits University and her Masters and PhD at the University of Sussex and Yale University. In 2006, Bozzoli was awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation
Habib says the respected academic left a mark in all the roles she occupied.
“She was an incredible academic and scholar. She moved on to become a senior executive of this university and in every one of those life cycles, she left an indelible mark. I am terrified that the stewardship that is meant to happen by the portfolio committee is just not there and the one sane voice in that portfolio committee has now passed on. This is a tragedy for this institution and it’s a tragedy for higher education in this country.”
Following the announcement of Bozzoli’s death colleagues paid their tributes. DA Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone described her as a wonderful Member of Parliament.
“Not only a wonderful MP; a beautiful friend, a wonderful mother, and a wonderful wife. Belinda was a public servant of great proportions. Belinda’s loss is a loss not only to the Democratic Alliance but to Parliament and to South Africa as a whole. Our prayers are with her friends and her family at this difficult time.”
Retired Constitutional Court Judge, Edwin Cameron, who was also at the memorial, says although he did not enjoy a personal relationship with the late Professor Belinda Bozzoli, he admired her intellect and contribution to education.
Cameron says the country mourns an intellectual leader.
“ She was more than just a top-right academic and more than just an inspiration to other academics. She was also simply a joy to have on the council. She was alert, observant, witty, often very funny. She didn’t say much but what she said had a powerful, intrusive impact and most importantly, she was an unparalleled ally in the difficult fights that unavoidably beset Wits governance. It was an unmitigated pleasure to have Belinda as a colleague and so with you, we mourn Belinda’s passing. We also mourn the loss of her superb skills and stature and eloquence .”
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