South Africa’s healthcare workers – the last line of defense
Monday, 4 January 2021, A memorial garden honouring frontline workers who have passed on in the fight against COVID-19 was opened at Durban’s iconic Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on Thursday, 31 December 2020.
The living garden was opened in memory of fallen heroes, Thembisile Mathe who worked as a registered nurse at the hospital, credit controller Asha Munilall and enrolled nurse Kogilambal Reddy. The three women, who were the first employees of the hospital to succumb to COVID-19 passed away between 24 and 30 December 2020.
In remembering and honouring his colleagues, Heinrich Venter, general manager of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital expressed his deep sadness at the passing of the three women who were highly respected and much-valued colleagues.
“Today we pay tribute to our colleagues, fallen heroes in combatting COVID-19 at ‘The San’. As frontline workers they dedicated their lives to saving humanity. We honour them and will dedicate this garden to the sacrifice they made. Look after each other, look after your family and look after your own wellbeing and health. We are the last line of defense,” he said.
Commenting on what he referred to as a tragedy, Venter said that as a close-knit community, the people of Netcare St Augustine’s hospital were deeply saddened by the loss of three vibrant women. Our hearts go out to their families, loved ones and colleagues to whom we offer our unconditional support at this very difficult time.”
Registered nurse and practicing midwife, Thembisile Veronica Mathe, who passed away on 30 December has worked at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital for more than twelve years. The 60-year old Thembisile was known as a visionary and strategic thinker who will be remembered for her brilliance, innovative nature and creativity. Her colleagues describe her as a true professional who generously shared her knowledge, expertise and skills. She hails from KwaDumisa, a village on the South Coast of KZN.
Thembisile qualified as a registered nurse in 1983 and went on to complete a diploma in advanced midwifery and NICU, a diploma in health service management, as well as a degree in nursing education and community science. She lived for her family, and spending quality time with them made her happiest.
The much-loved Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital Credit controller, Asha Munilall was a long-standing hospital employee with a proud track record of more than 25 years to her credit. Asha, who was 57-years old is described as a wonderful human being and a devoted mother, wife, sister, aunt and grandmother. She loved her family unequivocally and selflessly.
Asha was married to Ramesh and the couple had three children and two much-adored grandchildren. She was known as a remarkable woman who lived life to the fullest while touching the lives of many people during her time at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital. She passed away on 25 December 2020.
Kogilambal Sandra Reddy who is described as an excellent enrolled nurse, worked in the medical ICU at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.
The 45-year old Sandra, who lived in Chatsworth, recently completed her bridging course to become a registered nurse and was awaiting her results. She commenced employment at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital approximately two months ago on 26 October 2020 through an agency. She leaves behind two young daughters aged 10 and 16.
“Every single life lost during this devastating pandemic is one to many,” says Craig Murphy, regional director coastal of Netcare. “Losing our own people who have valiantly fought what is an unseen enemy in this time, is nothing short of tragic.
“I wish to extend my most heartfelt condolences to the family members and friends of Thembisile Mathe, Asha Munilall and Kogilambal Sandra Reddy. They are uppermost in our minds and prayers.
“I want to assure you that safeguarding each and every person in our care, including staff members and doctors at Netcare hospitals countrywide against COVID-19 and other infections has and will always be of paramount importance. We hold the sanctity of life above all else and have spared no effort or cost to keep them all as safe as possible,” he added.
“We wish to reiterate our sincere thanks and appreciation to all our heroes on the frontline; our healthcare workers, nurses, doctors, paramedics and support staff for their remarkable efforts under these trying and challenging circumstances. We acknowledge their tireless dedication and bravery during this time of uncertainty and remain deeply grateful to them all. We also thank their families and loved ones. As a community we owe it to them to do what we can to aid their efforts,” concluded Murphy.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016