President Zuma extends condolences for the sad passing of Professor Tobias
7 Jun 2012
President Jacob Zuma has learnt with sadness of the passing on of one of South Africa's leading scientists, Professor Philip Tobias, who passed away in Johannesburg today after a long illness.
South Africa's foremost palaeo-anthropologist and a full professor since the 1950's, Professor Tobias, among other things, successfully campaigned for the Sterkfontein Caves to be proclaimed a World Heritage site. With a tinge of humour, he was also renowned for demystifying complex science to everyday life and language, as his programmes on television bore testimony.
Professor Tobias also had the rare distinction of holding three professorships simultaneously at the University of the Witwatersrand, leading and producing ground-breaking research into the origins of human form as we know it, through the "study of the bone”.
He was also instrumental in taking forward the research started by Professor Raymond Dart, who was famous for his discovery of what became known as the Taung Skull in 1924. The skull is now seen as belonging to a child of the humanoid Australopithecus Africanus genus, a new species then and a new link in the chain which ends with modern humankind - Homo sapiens.
South Africa also owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Tobias for his successful efforts to have the remains of Saartjie Bartmann returned to South Africa. He led negotiations with France on behalf of the South African Government. The remains of Saartjie Bartmann, which were exhibited in Paris as ethnological and sexual curiosities in the 19th century, finally returned home in May 2002.
"We have lost a renowned scientist, a scholar and a unique human being. Our country remains eternally proud of his work. On behalf of Government and the people of South Africa, we extend our deepest condolences and may his soul rest in peace,” said President Zuma.
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Issued by: The Presidency
7 Jun 2012
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