Jansen: Transformation took toll on Botman

Jonathan Jansen says the stress of transformation took its toll on Russel Botman's health.

Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State Jonathan Jansen. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State Jonathan Jansen has suggested the stress of trying to transform Stellenbosch University may have taken its toll on the late Professor Russel Botman.

Jansen was among the dignitaries who attended Botman's funeral on campus yesterday.

The Stellenbosch University rector and vice-chancellor passed away in his sleep at his Stellenbosch home last Friday night at the age of 61.

Jansen said Botman had high hopes for transformation despite challenges at the historically white university.

"We really have to ask questions about why he died so young and what the enormous costs are of transformation at a historically white Afrikaans university and whether this could've been avoided."

Jansen said the university must ensure that Botman's successor shares his views on transformation.

Other high-profile mourners who attended the funeral service include former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, former minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor.

Manuel described Botman as a "visionary who is worth his weight in gold."

He said Botman played a critical role in transformation.His sentiments were shared by Pandor.

Zille commended the rector for his vision.

Botman was first appointed as rector in 2007 and was reappointed for a second five year term in 2012.

He was also a serving Director of Higher Education in South Africa, Senior Vice President of the Association of African Universities, Chairperson of the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 Board and a director at Media24.

The Bloemfontein born professor, who is also an ordained minister, has several accolades to his name, including an honorary doctorate by Hope College in Michigan, USA for leadership in higher education.

He was scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland next month.