Police probe Irish charity worker's murder in SA apartment

John Curran. Pic: Facebook

A murder investigation is underway after an Irishman was stabbed to death in South Africa.

The discovery was made at his apartment after an associate raised the alarm.

John Curran a former Director of Education at Mellon Educate in Cape Town is understood to have been living in an apartment there for the past couple of months.

Police in Capetown were called to the apartment after being contacted by a concerned associate.

Captain Ezra October confirmed emergency services declared Mr Curran dead at the scene yesterday morning at around 10.30am.

He had suffered mutliple stab wounds and a post-mortem is due to be carried out either tomorrow or Monday.

Investigators have completed a forensic examination at the scene and are following a number of lines of inquiry including looking at CCTV footage.

They also confirmed Mr Curran's mobile phone is missing.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed its aware of the case and is providing consular assistance to the family of Mr Curran.

The President of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), David Ruddy has spoken movingly of his long-time friend and network co-founder.

Mr Ruddy told RTE’s News at One that Mr Curran was a visionary who wanted to support primary school principals and deputy principals, which was why he had co-founded the network.

Mr Ruddy said: “He had an infectious smile, a lovely sense of humour.”

When Mr Curran retired he became involved in a number of projects, one of which was the Mellon Educate programme, of which he was director of education until recently.

He encouraged school principals in Ireland to visit South Africa during the school holidays and to bring with them items that could be used in local schools.

Mr Ruddy said: “He organised people to recycle items, to redirect surplus items. To bring out suitcases full of library books, IT programmes and to engage with schools.”

He told of how he had visited Mr Curran in South Africa last year and how Mr Curran had brought the Minister for Education for the Western Cape to the IPPN conference in Ireland earlier this year.

He was very much loved and very dynamic. He always wanted to give back.

“He found his work in South Africa very rewarding and very challenging. He quoted Nelson Mandela who said that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. John embodied that.”

Mr Curran was aware of the dangers of living in Cape Town and advised visitors of the places where they could and could not go.

“He was very laid back and loved life hugely. He threw himself into projects.”

Mr Ruddy recalled that in 2010 Mr Curran’s son Eoin had died in a sailing accident in New York, which had been a huge blow to him, his wife Liz and two other sons and daughter.

In recent years he had become a grandfather and that had “ignited a spark in him,” said Mr Ruddy.

He spent 16 years as Principal of Good Shepard NS in Churchtown, Dublin 14, until his early retirement in 2005.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan offered her condolences to Mr Curran’s family.

“John was well known in education circles in Dublin Rathdown and served the children of Churchtown well during his many years teaching at Good Shepard NS," she said.

“At a national level he was involved in numerous projects with IPPN over the years. I know he was held in high esteem by his former colleagues.

“His enthusiasm and energy was obvious to all and his legacy in the area of education is a significant one. He will be sadly missed.

“I am aware that John’s untimely death has come as a great shock to everyone who knew him. I wish the South African police well in their investigation into his passing.”

Updated with additional information at 4:27pm.

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