Posted on February 7, 2005

Second UCT Professor Stabbed to Death

Johan Schronen, Theresa Smith, and Terri-Liza Fortein, Cape Argus (Cape Town), Feb. 7

A second University of Cape Town professor has been murdered.

Professor Lisbé Smit (nee Smuts), 47, was found in the pool at her Wellington home on Monday.

This comes two days after the death of associate mathematics professor Brian Hahn, who was attacked at the university on January 28, allegedly by a former Ph D student.

A teenage suspect is in custody after Monday’s attack.

Smuts was surprised by an intruder after she returned home from running errands and taking her children to school at about 7.30am.

There were signs of a brutal struggle in the house and it appeared that Smuts had been chased outside the house.

She was found floating in the pool.

Police on the scene said she was barely alive when discovered and died soon afterwards.

An initial examination at the scene showed several stab wounds in her head and neck.

Neighbour Alexa Kirsten, who came to her aid during the attack, was stabbed several times with a screwdriver.

Kirsten is in a serious condition at Paarl Medi-Clinic.

Police were alerted about the attack as it happened, after neighbours reported hearing her screams.

Police rushed to the scene and spotted a 16-year-old youth fleeing.

An all-points alert mobilised patrols in the vicinity as police chased the suspect, who darted through an old-age home before he was arrested by a policeman near Boland Rugby Stadium.

It is suspected that the youth had been on robbery spree, as people in nearby streets had earlier also reported attacks and gave a similar description of their attacker.

The 16-year-old youth, from Noordkamp near Mbekweni, was found with items believed to have been taken from Smuts’s house.

UCT spokesperson Andrea Weiss confirmed Smuts was a senior lecturer and head of Afrikaans & Netherlandic Studies in the School of Languages and Literature.

The murder comes as staff at the University of Cape Town are still stunned by the death of Hahn, 58, in Vincent Pallotti Hospital on Saturday.

In the attack, Hahn suffered severe facial fractures, and the next day had a stroke that paralysed one side of his body.

Maleafisha Tladi, 35, a former Ph D student who previously held a temporary post in the department, was arrested and initially appeared in court on a charge of attempted murder. He is out on bail of R500.

He now faces a charge of murder.

Dave Richardson, an honorary research associate in the department, said on Sunday that he and Hahn had worked together for 25 years.

“Brian was more than my colleague. He was also a very great personal friend who had very good leadership skills,” he said.

Department head Christopher Gilmour said there would be a huge gap in the lives of all who knew Hahn.

“I have known him for about 20 years and he was a much-loved friend and colleague.

“He was an excellent scientist but I will miss him most for his kind and caring nature.”

Gilmour said the department was in a state of shock.

“He was always very concerned about all his colleagues and he went out of his way to let them know they could rely on his support,” Gilmour said.

Police spokesperson Elliot Sinyangana said Tladi would now be charged with murder.

“The investigating officer will inform the prosecutor of the new developments and it is up to the prosecutor to decide if there will be a new bail hearing,” he said.

Hahn leaves his wife, Cleone, his children Lyndall, André and David, and Christine, his only granddaughter.