Dr Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane died helicopter crash Jackson Mthembu
Dr Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane died in a Netcare Helicopter crash on his way to help save a Covid patient, and soon after trying to save Jackson Mthembu's life. Photo: SASA

The young doctor who died in the Netcare helicopter crash in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, yesterday, had earlier been called to help save Minister Jackson Mthembu’s life. The Minister in the Presidency succumbed to Covid-19 on Thursday. Hours later the cardiac anaesthetist, who tried to save him, perished in the Netcare helicopter tragedy near Bergville, on his wave to try save another Covid-19 patient in Hillcrest.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, confirmed that one of the deceased Netcare health professionals – Dr Rudolph Mononyan – was called to save Minister Jackson Mthembu’s life.

“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.

Dr Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane died Netcare helicopter crash
Dr Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane died in a Netcare Helicopter crash on his way to help save a Covid patient, and soon after trying to save Jackson Mthembu’s life. Photo: SASA

“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.”

SASA (South African Association of Anaesthesiologists) said in a statement:

It is with great sadness that SASA wishes to inform members of the tragic loss of Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane in a helicopter crash today en route to retrieve a Covid patient for ECMO. Rudolf was a highly respected anaesthesiologist, a member of DGMC transplant and Milpark ECMO teams, a SASA Councillor from 2016-2020 as well as on the SASA PPBU Committee.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife, son, family and all who knew him, as well as the family and colleagues of those involved in the crash.

Tributes have poured in for Dr Mononyane from his colleagues and friends, remembering a “young, brilliant anaesthetist” who liked to be called Rudolf. One colleague said: “Working with you for almost 5 years has been a blessing and you will always be remembered for your kindness and pure heart. Rest in peace. You will always be in my prayers.”

Mike Blackburn, specialist anaesthetist at Dunkeld Anaesthetic Practice said: “Huge loss. Rudolph was a brilliant anaesthetist, a kind and humble man who I was privileged to train with and work on the PPBU with. Condolences to his family and the families of all on board. This is another dark day for anaesthesia in South Africa.”

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. –

Sources: SAPeople, SASA, Netcare911, SAnews.gov.za