South African Zionist Activist Shot to Death in Johannesburg

Sergio Kowensky, 67, sustained multiple shot wounds and was left on the side of the road by unknown assailants who left him to die and fled the scene without taking his car, wallet, or cellphone, according to the South African Jewish Report

The chairman of the South African chapter of World Likud was killed on Tuesday outside of his air-conditioning firm in Benrose, a suburb of Johannesburg, according to Algemeiner.

Sergio Kowensky, 67, sustained multiple shot wounds and was left on the side of the road by unknown assailants who left him to die and fled the scene without taking his car, wallet, or cellphone, according to the South African Jewish Report. A police investigation is ongoing.

“The initial fears were that this could have been the work of anti-Israel fanatics,” the paper explained, “given that Kowensky spent his entire life dedicated to Zionist ideals, with an intense passion for the well-being of the State of Israel.”

Kowensky was an outspoken supporter of Israel and its ruling Likud party, which he represented on the South African Zionist Federation’s management committee, according to Algemeiner.

According to his friend Mike Fisher, Kowensky was also “known to members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” the SA Jewish Report said.

Other sources told the paper that in more recent months, Kowensky was allegedly “involved in fraught wage negotiations with staff members at his company,” which went into liquidation last year.

“Some speculate the murder may have been revenge for the many lay-offs,” it reported. “His friends and family would not be drawn on the matter.”

Kowensky was described as a spiritual, Sabbath-observant man. He went to Torah classes every week and did charitable work, according to Algemeiner. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Holocaust survivors, and taught Hebrew at a local school before making aliyah to Israel with his parents. He studied engineering at the Technion and met his wife, a South African, while in Israel, according to Algemeiner.

“My father breathed Zionism,” Kowensky’s youngest son Joni told the SA Jewish Report. “As a religious man, he knew all sides and engaged everyone on the subject, including those who held opposing views. He knew the history of Israel backwards, and enjoyed engaging people on the subject, including people like well-known United States lawyer Alan Dershowitz.”

Ifat Ovadia-Luski, CEO of World Likud, expressed shock at Kowensky’s “tragic death,” saying he “dedicated his life to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

He was also eulogized by ‎Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and chair of World Likud, who praised his passion for Zionism, activism, and Israel.

Kowensky is survived by his wife Alison, their daughter Michal, 42, and their sons Doron, 40, and Joni, 32.

Late last month, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies sounded the sirens over what they call an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, both on social media and in person.

Algemeiner reports that these included a mural in Johannesburg of a German flag overlaid with a swastika.

“We are being told that we are ‘scum’, ‘rats’, ‘bastards’, ‘pigs’, ‘swine’ and ‘fat-nosed f***ks,” the group warned. “We are further being warned that ‘our time is coming’ and that ‘the Holocaust will be a picnic after we are done with you.’”

By: Ingrid Horowitz

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