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Anaesthetist’s name omitted from memorial at Netcare helicopter crash site

When a memorial was unveiled yesterday (Wednesday 23 February) and tribute was paid to the crew that died a year ago in a Netcare mercy mission helicopter crash, there was no mention of anaesthetist Dr Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane, one of the personnel killed in the accident, reports the Sunday Times.

His family had specifically asked that he not be named, after a standoff with Netcare.

The respected medical specialist was part of a medical team flying to Durban to transport a critically ill patient in January last year when the helicopter crashed in Winterton, KZN. He died with Dr Curnick Siyabonga Mahlangu, a cardiothoracic surgeon; Mpho Xaba, a specialist theatre nurse for cardiothoracic and transplant; Sinjin Joshua Farrance, an advanced life support paramedic at Netcare 911; and pilot Mark Stoxreiter.

The memorial ceremony this week, at the site of the crash, honoured four of the deceased as well as thousands of other healthcare practitioners who have died of COVID-19, although Mononyane’s name did not feature.

His widow, Kgomotso Mononyane, told the Sunday Times there was an ongoing disagreement between the family and Netcare, and she was waiting to hear from them regarding a letter she had sent to them.

Her letter claimed that Netcare failed to adequately provide post-trauma support for the Mononyane family; there had been a lack of disclosure and support around the legalities with air ambulance contractor NAC; Netcare had not provided enough access to information around the accident in respect of regulatory institutions; and the company had failed to pay for the Mononyane children’s “extramural endeavours for which Dr Mononyane was supportive and Netcare promised to review”.

Netcare Group CEO Dr Richard Friedland told the Sunday Times no mention of Mononyane would be made at the ceremony, to honour his family’s wishes.

“We are dealing with enormous trauma and in respect of traumatic death the shock is huge and takes a long time,” Friedland said. “At the time of the crash, Netcare flew the families of the deceased out to the site, they were careful about returning the bodies and supported the families to the very extent we possibly could.”

He said Netcare had bought the piece of land where the crash happened, had fenced it, secured it and built a memorial on the site. It was to have been unveiled on the anniversary of the crash, but this was delayed because of ongoing heavy rain. He said the intention was to honour all five victims.

There has been no finding on the cause of the fatal crash yet, but the pilot’s family is suing helicopter manufacturing giant Bell Textron, claiming it failed to act on a critical maintenance warning emanating from a 2018 crash report.


Sunday Times Pressreader article – Hero doctor to be omitted from tribute at crash site (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


US manufacturer sued over fatal Netcare air-ambulance crash


SACAA preliminary report into Netcare helicopter crash released



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