ONE of the doctors who died in a helicopter crash in Bergville, KZN was part of a team that tried to save the life of Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who  died of Covid-19 complications on Thursday, 21 January.

Mavis Mahlakoane, a nurse from Milpark Hospital was the nurse who attended to Mthembu when he arrived at Milpark Hospital in Joburg.

She gave an emotional address at Mthembu’s funeral this morning, giving an account of the government veteran’s last days.

Nurse Mahlakoane spoke about how Mthembu had complained that the oxygen had left him feeling cold and doctors had tried to insert a pipe but Mthembu declined.

She also spoke about how Dr Kgopotso Mononyane, an anaesthetist, rushed to Mthembu’s side and was concerned by his condition.

The doctor then told the nurse and other staff attending to Mthembu that he had to rush to KZN via helicopter to attend to another critical patient.

 The helicopter exploded in the air and then crashed, killing all five on the spot.

"Dr Mononyane, Dr Siyabonga Mahlangu, nurse Mpho Xaba, paramedic Sinjin Farrance and pilot Mark Stoxreiter were on their way to Hillcrest, Durban to transport a critically ill patient to Netcare Milpark Hospital when the helicopter crashed," said Mkhize.

He conveyed his condolences to the families of the medical personnel who died in the crash.

"We know their dedication, their hard work and efforts to try and save the lives all the time. We really want to convey our condolences to their families," said Mkhize.

KZN police spokeswoman Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed that an inquest docket is being investigated by Winterton SAPS. She said the helicopter with five people allegedly broke into pieces in the air. “It crashed, hit the ground and exploded.

A total of five people died. The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated,” said Mbele.

“There are no words adequate to describe our 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,” commented Craig Grindell, managing director of Netcare 911.

Health Professions Council of South Africa’s acting head of corporate affairs Priscilla Sekhonyana said: “HPCSA sends its condolences to the family members and colleagues of these frontline workers who died on duty. We salute and appreciate their bravery.”