Durban - One of the doctors who died in a fiery helicopter crash in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands was meant to fly to Durban earlier on Thursday but his flight was put on hold so that he could assist in saving the life of minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.
This was revealed by Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize who sent his condolences to the families of the five people who died when the Netcare 911 helicopter they were travelling in crashed in Bergville.
Those on board the fatal flight have been identified as Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, an anaesthetist, Dr Curnick Siyabonga (Sia) Mahlangu a cardiothoracic surgeon and Mpho Xaba, a specialist theatre nurse for cardiothoracic and transplant, all from Netcare Milpark Hospital, Sinjin Joshua Farrance, an advanced life support paramedic at Netcare 911 and pilot Mark Stoxreiter who worked for National Airways Corporation.
Dr Mononyane was meant to leave Milpark Hospital as part of a medical crew that was flying to Durban to transport a critically-ill patient earlier on Thursday but was held back to treat Mthembu who had been battling Covid-19.
In an interview with eNCA, Mkhize said:“One of the doctors who has passed away in the crash was actually called by a friend, Dr Paul Williams, to come and assist to save minister Jackson during that difficult time. He dropped the trip; he was supposed to go to KwaZulu-Natal. And then his team waited [and] delayed his flight. He came back [to help Mthembu]. They worked very hard. Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, a cardiothoracic anaesthetist, he came together [with other doctors] to do everything they could to support minister Jackson.’’
In a tragic turn of events, shortly after trying to save Minister Jackson Mthembu's life, doctor Richard Mononyane died in a helicopter crash. Two doctors, a nurse, paramedic and pilot died when a Netcare medical emergency chopper crashed in Bergville, KZN yesterday. pic.twitter.com/u2Tn1cPwIo— eNCA (@eNCA) January 22, 2021
“And of course, unfortunately, on his way out, as he was flying out, he had a fatal accident,” Mkhize said. “We’d like to convey our very sincere condolences to the families of all those doctors and pilot who lost their lives. We know their dedication, their hard work and their effort to try to save lives all the time.”
Despite their best efforts, Mthembu would later succumb to Covid-19 complications.
In a statement on Thursday night, Netcare said the crew were on their way to Durban to fetch a critically ill patient when they helicopter crashed.
“We are 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,” said Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.