Well known gay television director and producer Ken Kirsten has been brutally murdered outside his Johannesburg home.

Fifty-eight year old Kirsten, a respected veteran director of many South African television shows and live events, was believed to have been taking his dog for a walk on Sunday night before he was shot.

Kirsten’s partner, Rick Karp, heard gunshots outside their Northcliff house and, upon investigating, found him already dead. He was apparently shot a number of times at close range. The motive is still unclear and nothing appeared to have been stolen. There is speculation that he may have surprised would-be burglars.

Tragically, the couple had only last year returned to South Africa after Kirsten’s five year stint as a director in the United States.

Talking to reporters, Karp said that, “We returned because Ken loved South Africa so much. He believed in the amazing changes that had taken place. We were aware of the crime problem, but Ken was determined to come and make a difference with his experience. And now he is part of the crime statistics of this country for which he had so much empathy.”

The multiple award-winning Kirsten was best known for directing televised live shows, like Miss South Africa and the closing ceremony of the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament, during his 30 year career. Most recently, he was employed by Urban Brew and worked on shows such as Saterdagnag (Kyknet) and 3Talk (SABC3). Tributes have poured in from the television industry.

SABC group chief executive Dali Mpofu commented that, “Ken’s untimely death has left a huge gap in the industry. His work record will always serve as a reference for up-coming directors.”

The suspects remain at large.

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