'A wonderful sense of humour and an infectious laugh' – tributes pour in after Irish man murdered in South Africa

Friends and colleagues of an Irish father-of-four found dead in South Africa have described a “profound sense of shock, sadness and disbelief” at the news of his death.

John Curran, aged in his sixties, was discovered yesterday in his Cape Town apartment.

South African investigators confirmed to Independent.ie that the incident is being treated as murder.

Mr Curran held a senior position for the Mellon Educate charity in Cape Town – and had previously worked as a school principal in Dublin.

He was well-known in education circles on a national level in Ireland and tributes poured in following news of his death.

“We are all indebted to him for all his work over many years, all of which was completely voluntary. On a personal level, we will greatly miss his wonderful sense of humour, his infectious laugh and his ability to lighten the most serious topic,” the Irish Primary Principals Network said in a statement today.

“It is with a profound sense of shock, sadness and disbelief that we acknowledge the sudden passing of John Curran, highly esteemed colleague and friend.”

Mellon Educate also posted a tribute to their “dear colleague” this afternoon.

“With great sadness we learned yesterday that our dear colleague and friend John Curran was killed during a robbery in his apartment in Cape Town South Africa,” they wrote on Facebook.

They wrote that John had only recently completed a two-year contract as Director of Education for Mellon Educate in South Africa and was staying on vacation in Cape Town for a number of weeks.

Niall Mellon, CEO said Mr Curran was “much loved” by everyone who met him: “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.

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

And the Good Shepherd National School, where Mr Curran was principal for 14 years, also paid tribute, describing Mr Curran as an “innovative educator”.

“John’s vision and enthusiasm still influence our ethos and can be seen at work throughout our school today.

“We are proud to continue the work he began here in 1989,” they added.


Police in South Africa confirmed to Independent.ie that they have begun a murder investigation following the discovery of Mr Curran’s body.

It is understood that police were called after a colleague had gone to the apartment when Mr Curran hadn’t been seen in some time. His family has been informed.

It is understood the victim’s phone was missing but police in South Africa haven’t confirmed whether it was robbery or not.

It is also understood that a person was seen on CCTV footage leaving the apartment with their face covered in the early hours of yesterday morning.

“We can confirm that police arrived at the apartment block and found a body with stab wounds, to the body,” Captain Ezra October of the Cape Town Central police department said.

“We have assigned a senior detective to the case and carried out a forensic investigation of the apartment and sampling.

“This is definitely being investigated as a case of murder.”

The senior officer added that CCTV footage of the apartment complex where Mr Curran had been living would be reviewed.

His body was today formally identified by a colleague and the company he worked with are liaising with his family in Ireland, Cpt October said.

Mr Curran, aged in his 60s, was living in the apartment.

A post-mortem will be carried out on the deceased either tomorrow or on Monday, according to investigators.

In a statement the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the situation and is  “is providing consular assistance”.


Speaking on RTÉ News at One earlier today, IPPN President David Ruddy said Mr Curran was a “visionary” and an “exceptional leader” with an “infectious smile” who was “very much loved”.

Mr Ruddy said that Mr Curran found his work in South Africa “very rewarding and equally very challenging”.

He then recited a famous quote by former South African leader Nelson Mandela – “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” – and said that Mr Curran “lived and embodied every piece of that statement”.

Mr Ruddy further said Mr Curran and his family had experienced great sorrow before when they lost their son Eoin in a sailing accident in New York.

Eoin Ruddy was just 30 at the time of the tragedy in July 2010. He was working for Google at the time of his death.

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