North West University lecturer found dead in campus trench

Rudi van de Venter was found in a trench on campus at the weekend.
Rudi van de Venter was found in a trench on campus at the weekend.
Image: NWU

Students and staff at the North West University (NWU) are mourning the death of a mathematics lecturer, who allegedly fell into a trench at the university's Potchefstroom campus.

Rudi van de Venter’s body was discovered by security personnel on Saturday.

“The university community is quite shocked and saddened at the loss of Mr Venter,  especially in such a freak accident," said NWU spokesperson Louis Jacobs.   

The trench was dug last week and had been "properly cordoned", said Jacobs.   

“We are unfortunately not able to indicate or speculate on what might have transpired. When the body was found, police were immediately called. More details will be revealed in the investigations," he said.

The 48-year-old lecturer had been employed in the faculty of education and lectured mathematics.

Mentor and colleague Prof Josef de Beer described his death as a loss to the university and academia. 

“He was an incredible human being, a good person, also a bit reserved,” he said.

De Beer said his last conversation with Van de Venter had been a day before he died. "We were speaking about his new topic on his new study about the mathematics curriculum. He shared with me ideas he had on how to make the curriculum more relevant to students in the 21st century," he said.  

"He had at least 17 years before retirement. He had brilliant ideas and I think he would have made a huge impact in academia, so we’re quite sad at the loss."

Jacobs said counselling had been arranged for students and colleagues.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Aafje Botma said his body was found in an unusual position, indicating that he may have broken his neck, but a post-mortem would establish the cause of death.

She added that an inquest investigation was under way.