Tragic death of five lifesavers


SOUTH Africa is today mourning the deaths of four medics and a pilot who died on a mission to keep others alive.

The five were killed enroute to KwaZulu Natal to pick up a critically ill patient. One of the doctors who died in the helicopter crash was part of a team that hours ealier had tried to save the life of Jackson Mthembu, the Minister in the Presidency, who died from COVID-19 complications at the Milpark Clinic in Johannesburg.

Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, an anaethetist from Johannesburg, delayed the team’s departure to KwaZulu-Natal so that he can assist in efforts to save Mthembu’s life.

Mononyane, Dr Siyabong Mahlangu, Mpho Xaba (nurse), Joshua Farrance (paramedic) and pilot Mark Stoxreiter died on a rescue mission to Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal.

South African Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said Mononyane was summoned by a friend to assist in efforts to save Mthembu. “He dropped the trip he was supposed to go to in KwaZulu-Natal and then his team waited, delayed the flight,” he said.

Mkhize paid tribute to all the Netcare team that died in the tragic accident. He said: “We know their dedication, their hard work and their effort to try and save lives all the time. We really want to convey our condolences and appreciation to the families.”

The South African Society of Anaesthesiologists said Mononyane was a respected anaethesiologist. “Our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife, sonk, family and all who knew him, as well as the family and colleagues of those involved in the crash,” the organisation said in a statement.

Netcare chief executive Dr Richard Friedland said they were shocked beyond words. “The whole of Netcare falls silent as we bow our heads in tribute, respect, love and memory of our fallen colleagues and frontline heroes who have died in the line of duty,” Friedland said.

The accident is being investigated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

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