JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has revealed that anaesthetist Dr Rudolph Mononyane, who was one of the doctors who tried to save the life of the late Minister Jackson Mthembu at Milpark Hospital, died shortly afterwards in a helicopter crash in KZN.
Mononyane had been part of the emergency team deployed to save the minister’s life before he died due to Covid-19-related complications on Thursday.
On Friday, Netcare 911 paramedics also paid homage to the medical team with a convoy through the streets of Gauteng. Outside Milpark Hospital, flowers were laid in memory of those who died in the crash.
When Mthembu succumbed, Mononyane had left Milpark Hospital to join a five-person crew travelling to KZN by helicopter, where they had another critically-ill patient to attend to.
The helicopter crashed in KZN, killing Mononyane and his colleagues Dr Siyabonga Mahlangu, nurse Mpho Xaba, paramedic Sinjin Joshua Farrance and pilot Mark Stoxreiter.
The circumstances around the crash are still subject to investigations by the Civil Aviation Authority of South Africa.
“Whilst we were still coming to terms with the untimely death of our colleague and comrade Hon. Jackson Mthembu, who sadly passed away from Covid-19 related complications on Thursday, 21 January, we were shocked to learn that the anaesthetist who assisted the emergency team with Hon. Mthembu’s resuscitation, Dr Rudolph Mononyane, was killed in a rescue helicopter crash.
“The circumstances surrounding this are particularly devastating as Dr Mononyane, along with his colleagues, were travelling in the helicopter to KZN as a response team for another critically-ill patient.
“This was shortly after Dr Mononyane had delayed the flight to assist colleagues who were trying to stabilise Hon. Mthembu at Milpark Hospital.
“This is a tragic loss that has robbed the country of such highly skilled professionals who were prepared to put the lives of others before their own.
“I salute our departed colleagues and the pilot who fell in the line of duty,” said Mkhize.
Mkhize said the country had weathered the Covid-19 storm because of people like Mononyane and co.
He called for the Civil Aviation Authority to investigate thoroughly the circumstances leading to the helicopter crash.
“We call on the aviation industry to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the helicopter crash so that we may never in future suffer such a devastating loss of valuable front line responders who travel in emergency aircraft.
“We convey our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of our colleagues that we lost in this terrible accident. May their souls rest in eternal peace and may we never forget that they remained dedicated and committed to delivering quality healthcare right to the end of their lives,” he said.