The higher education sector mourns the loss of one of South Africa’s leading scientists,
the University of the Western Cape (UWC) alumnus Professor Edmund Zingu.
Zingu, 67, graduated with a BSc and honours from UWC in the late 1960s/early 1970s before obtaining his master’s in Netherlands and his PhD from the University of Cape Town. He was head of the Department of Physics at UWC from 1995 to 1997, after which he became Vice-Rector at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) until his retirement.
A former president of the South African Institute of Physics, Zingu died in hospital in the early hours of Saturday, 20 April after he was diagnosed with lung cancer last November.
Zingu headed the physics department at the Medical University of South Africa, before taking up a Fulbright research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology in the US, in the early 1990s.
He was the first black scientist to hold the post of Vice-President at the SA Institute of Physics (SAIP) in 2001, before becoming its president in 2003. He believed that local scientists needed to re-examine their role in society and how physics could impact on the national development objectives, including keeping the country up to speed with international research and technology.
Zingu, a father of three, was a member of the Council on Higher Education, and was chairing a review on the training of physics undergraduates. He served as MUT's acting Vice-Chancellor following the suspension of Professor Aaron Ndlovu.
Zingu’s wife, Julia, former executive director of the Children's Rights Centre in Durban, was quoted by The Mercury newspaper as saying her late husband was an honourable man. “We want him to be remembered as a man of integrity, a humble man, who was a private person, but a friend to all.”
Simon Connell, President of SAIP Council, said of Zingu: “Edmund was a pioneer for physics in post-apartheid South Africa, a visionary, a tireless campaigner for strengthening the discipline of physics and, above all, a true gentleman.”
A memorial service for the late Prof Zingu was held at the UWC Library Auditorium on Thursday 25 April at 13:00, and his funeral will be on Saturday 27 April at 10:30 in the Methodist Church, Church Street, in Wynberg.