John Curran Photo: Facebook

Cape Town – Irish charity worker John Curran was killed in Cape Town two weeks before he was due to return to Ireland on completing his contract with Mellon Educate, the Irish-based African development charity.

The 60-year-old, who had been director of education for the charity in Cape Town since October 2016, was stabbed to death in his CBD apartment on Wednesday.

Police confirmed that they are working on possible leads following the murder at the high-security residential complex.

"I know our many volunteers and supporters will be very sad to hear this tragic news. John was much loved by everyone who met him and especially by the thousands of children he helped during his time with Mellon Educate," the charity said in a statement. 

"We are assisting his family in every way we can and your warm wishes of empathy are sincerely appreciated."

The charity said that Curran had been killed during a robbery. 

The Irish Times reported that Curran's death is the second tragedy to befall the family in recent years. In July 2010, Curran’s 30-year-old son Eoin was drowned in New York while taking a sailing lesson at Long Island Sound when a sudden storm hit and he was thrown overboard.

Curran had been founding principal of Good Shepherd national school at Churchtown in Dublin, where he served for 16 years before early retirement in June 2005. 

A founding member of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), he served on its executive committee from 2000 to 2007 and was PRO from 2005 to 2009.

David Ruddy, president of the IPPN, said he had known  Curran for about 20 years.

“We are numbed and finding it very hard to process the information. Our hearts go out to his family, his very wide circle of friends, his colleagues and all who knew him.

“We will greatly miss his wonderful sense of humour, his infectious laugh and his ability to lighten the most serious topic. We are all indebted to him for all his work over many years, all of which was completely voluntary.”

On a visit to Curran in South Africa last year, Ruddy said he had seen “the remarkable work he was doing in the townships”, where teachers from Ireland would visit him “with suitcases full of books and materials surplus to requirements at home”. 

It was part of Teachers Blitz projects in 2017 and 2018 to build schools and schools’ infrastructure.