Durban - Colleagues and friends are shocked by the death of a clinical psychologist and former academic, who was shot by a man “wearing a wig, a hat and a pinkish apron”, according to witnesses.
Professor Humphrey Siphiwe Ngcobo, 47, was leaving a guest house in Mzingazi at about 3am on Sunday when an unidentified man fired several shots at him from close range, Richards Bay police spokeswoman, Debbie Ferreira, said.
Mzingazi is part of the Tuzi Gazi Waterfront in Richards Bay, an entertainment and accommodation venue.
According to reports, Ngcobo was leaving the venue after a graduation party.
He had close ties with the University of Zululand, where he had previously headed the psychology department.
He was a member the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) Professional Board for Psychology, chairman of the accreditation and quality assurance committee and past president of the Psychological Society of South Africa.
After the attack, he was taken to the Netcare The Bay Hospital where he died soon after being admitted.
Ngcobo ran a practice at the hospital, as well as another at the Life Empangeni Garden Clinic.
Ferreira said there were witnesses to the murder and they were being interviewed by police.
She said police did not know the motive for the killing at this stage.
The provincial SAPS media liaison office was unable to provide a description of the gunman.
A former colleague of Ngcobo’s, Professor Nomahlubi Makunga, who was executive dean of Zululand University’s psychology faculty until 2012, described the slain psychologist as “a diligent student and worker”.
“He was a colleague and a friend,” Makunga said.
“He was compassionate and caring and when it came to work he tried by all means to see that work done was of a high quality.”
Although he was not married and had no children of his own, Makunga described him as “a family man” on account of him supporting a large extended family – “all of his brothers’ children, cousins, and even people who were not related,” she said.
“When it came to education, he would offer them any help,” Makunga.
His family has strong ties with the Anglican church. Ngcobo’s father and two brothers – one of whom has died – were ordained ministers in the church. Makunga said she was “totally shocked and perplexed” at the shooting.
“He was not a fighter,” she said.
“If there was conflict, he would approach you in a jovial way to solve the problem.”
The Life Empangeni Garden Clinic, where Ngcobo ran a practice, said: “It is with great sadness that we mark the sudden and tragic passing of Professor Ngcobo.
“He was a man who gave so much of his time and of himself to his patients.
“He will be greatly missed by all whose lives he had touched.
“Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones in this time of sadness.”
The HPCSA was also shocked to learn about the tragic death, said Professor Tholene Sodi, chairperson of the board.
“He had a huge impact on the profession during his term as a member of the Professional Board for Psychology of the HPCSA.
“Professor Ngcobo, who was a qualified clinical psychologist, had a passion for the profession during his time at the HPCSA and was well loved in the industry.
“The HPCSA, the Professional Board and administration are mourning his loss and we would like to convey our deepest sympathies to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.”
Ngcobo’s sister-in-law, Lindiwe Ngcobo, said funeral arrangements were being finalised. The family planned to have the funeral on Friday, but the venue was still being arranged.