A South African theologian, intellectual and activist, Le Bruyns passed away at the age of 48 on 7 January due to complications from COVID-19.
While his identity and work were firmly rooted in his own country’s ongoing struggles for justice, equality and human dignity, his vision and his scholar-activism transcended the barriers of religion, culture, continents and nationalities.
Known for his optimism and warmth, Le Bruyns initiated scholarly and social media projects to sensitize theology students, clergy and others to the Palestinian reality. He served on the leadership team of Kairos South Africa and contributed actively to Global Kairos for Justice.
As a lecturer in theology at Stellenbosch University and later at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Le Bruyns had a formative influence on how young people who trained as theologians understand contextual prophetic theology.
In recent years, Le Bruyns served as director of the postgraduate Theology & Development Programme, and senior lecturer in Theology & Development within the School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
He studied at Cornerstone Christian College, University of South Africa, University of the Western Cape, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Stellenbosch University before serving at institutions including Pat Kelly Bible College, Cornerstone Christian College, Stellenbosch University and Eastern University. He was an active member within various professional theological and ethics societies and editorial boards.
WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri said that the work of Le Bruyns in the Theology and Development Programme at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa was very much linked to the work of the WCC in Public Witness and Diakonia.
“While his strong connection with the WCC was through our peace-building work, especially in Israel and Palestine, he was also strong in issues of climate justice, economic justice and human dignity,” said Phiri. “He trained church leaders to be competent in all these fields.”
His students came from the churches all over Africa and beyond, noted Phiri. “This work is the legacy that he has left for the ecumenical family,” she said. “Our condolences to his daughter, mother and the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at the University of KwaZulu Natal. May his spirit rest in peace.”
Duduzile Masango, national coordinator for the EAPPI in South Africa, reflected: “In Dr Clint Le Bruyns, SA-EAPPI has lost a great advisor and recruiter. From Stellenbosch University to the the University of KwaZulu-Natal he always encouraged his students to consider being accompaniers. Not only did he do that, he also had an eye to identifying potential EAs, and he would volunteer his time to do a debrief for the returning EAs. Not only has SA-EAPPI lost an advisor but we have lost an advocate as well. Sleep well Dr Clint.”