Doctor who died in a helicopter crash tried to save Mthembu


Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has confirmed that one of the Netcare health professionals who died in a helicopter crash near Bergville was called to save Minister Jackson Mthembu’s life.

Mthembu, 62, succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday.

“One of the doctors who have passed away in the crash was actually called by a friend, Dr Paul William, to come and save Minister Jackson during a difficult time.

“He dropped the trip, he was supposed to go to KwaZulu-Natal, and his team waited, delayed his flight. He came back to [help Mthembu]. They came together with Dr Rudolph Mononyane, a cardiac anaesthetist, to do everything they could to support Minister Jackson and of course, unfortunately, as he was flying out he met a fatal accident,” Mkhize told Clement Manyathela on eNCA on Thursday.

The Minister has expressed his condolences to the medics and the pilot who lost their lives.

“We know their dedication and their hard work and efforts to try and save lives all the time. We really want to convey our appreciation and may their souls rest in peace.”

Meanwhile, Netcare CEO, Dr Richard Friedland, said the hospital group is “profoundly saddened” by the death of their five colleagues who tragically died in the line of duty in a helicopter crash near Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday.

The deceased have been identified as anaesthetist Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Curnick Siyabonga ‘Sia’ Mahlangu, specialist theatre nurse Mpho Xaba and advanced Netcare 911 life support paramedic Sinjin Joshua Farrance.

The pilot is Mark Stoxreiter who worked for National Airways Corporation.

“The specialised Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) intensive care rapid transfer team from Netcare Milpark in Johannesburg and Netcare 911 was aboard the Netcare 1 air ambulance en-route to Hillcrest in Natal to transfer a critically ill patient to Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg for specialised ECMO care,” Friedland explained.

The CEO said they were shocked beyond words at the tragic loss of these healthcare heroes.

“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,” added Friedland.

Netcare 911 Managing Director Craig Grindell said there were no words to describe the team’s sense of enormous loss and grief at this terrible time.

“On behalf of Netcare and Netcare 911 management and staff, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families of our colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult time,” he added.

According to the statement, Friedland, Grindell and other senior executives of Netcare and Netcare 911 went to the scene of the accident immediately after being informed of the crash.

“Netcare confirmed that the cause of the tragic accident will be investigated by the appropriate authorities.”

Netcare said counselling is being offered to the families, colleagues and loved ones of the deceased.