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Communities mourn murdered medics

The medical fraternity has been hit with more tragedy with the unrelated murders of two healthcare workers this week; a Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal paediatrician, Dr Zamambo Siphokazi Mkhize, and a Westbury, Johannesburg pharmacist, Faizel "Faya" McKenzie.

This comes shortly after a Pietermaritzburg pharmacist was gunned down at a busy intersection in Plessislaer, and Donbsonville doctor Michael Isabelle was murdered in his surgery last month. None of the incidents are related.

The Witness reports that Mkhize’s VW Polo was found abandoned in Imbali J-Section in Pietermaritzburg last Friday night after her husband reported her missing when she didn’t return home from Harry Gwala Regional Hospital in Edendale where she worked.

She was supposed to have left work a little earlier than usual to take one of her two children for a medical check-up.

Mkhize’s brother, Ntozonke, said his sister’s husband had repeatedly tried calling her on her cellphone but became worried when she did not answer. He then contacted Tracker to ask for help in finding her car.

“We received a call from the police at around 8pm saying they had found the vehicle in Imbali. When we got to there, we found her body stuffed in the boot,” said Ntozonke.

A police source said Mkhize had been shot in the head and appeared to have been been assaulted, as she had a bruised and swollen eye. Her handbag and phone were missing.

Imbali J residents believe she was murdered in a different location and her car and body dumped in Imbali.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said the vehicle was left in the area at around 5pm.

Passionate about helping others

Mkhize attained her master’s degree in 2011 and has practised medicine since then, one of only a few black women paediatricians in the province.

Having suffered from childhood asthma, she had dedicated her life to helping children, said her brother, describing her as a soft-spoken and gentle soul.

“She was a kind-hearted, loving, and hard-working woman. The desire to help people and to have an impact on the healthcare system inspired her to go into medicine. Childhood care became important to her, because of her severe childhood asthma,” he said.

The mother of two, a daughter aged two and a son aged five, Mkhize matriculated from Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High in 2003 and attended the University of Cape Town, where she studied towards her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) before enrolling at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to specialise in paediatrics.

Blow to community

The provincial Department of Health said Mkhize’s death was a huge blow to the sector, and urged police to leave no stone unturned in investigating and finding the killers.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has condemned the killing and called on the police to take serious action against crime, with chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa saying the murder comes against a backdrop of a shortage of specialist doctors in the country.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said Plessislaer police are investigating. He said there were no suspects at this stage and the motive for the killing had not yet been established.

In Westbury, residents are up in arms after a beloved pharmacist, who dedicated his life to serving the community, was gunned down at the family-owned business in Newclare on Monday.

The brutal murder of Faizel "Faya" McKenzie comes 13 days after the deputy national commissioner responsible for visible policing, Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili, and top brass held a community engagement meeting at the Sophiatown police station.

McKenzie was shot dead at the Newclare Pharmacy around 3.30pm on Monday.

Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo said McKenzie was killed in full view of three employees.

"Three unknown males wearing balaclavas entered the pharmacy and went straight to the pharmacist and started shooting at him," Masondo said.

Earlier this month, well-known Pietermaritzburg pharmacist Yunus Chothia’s bullet-riddled car and body were found near KwaPata, in Edendale. The Witness reported at the time that gunmen fired both 9mm and AK47 rounds at the driver’s side of the car.

And TimesLIVE reports that two men accused of killing Dr Michael Isabelle in Dobsonville last month made their first appearance in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court this week, charged with two counts of murder, four of robbery with aggravating circumstances, malicious damage to property, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and defeating or obstructing the administration of justice.

Gordon Matwetwe Muningi (50) and Tebogo Thutlwa (48) were arrested by the police’s serious and violent crimes, murder and robbery unit last Thursday.

Isabelle was shot at his practice on 26 February when three men arrived pretending to be seeking medical attention for their friend.

Inside the consulting room, a shoot-out ensued, where one of the assailants was wounded and later died, said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwana.

The men then fled, driving a car belonging to the receptionist. The charred remains of the vehicle were later recovered in Alexandra, where the men were arrested with some of the doctor’s belongings, along with two unlicensed guns.

Isabelle died at a local clinic where he had been taken for gunshot wounds, said police spokesperson Brigadie Brenda Muridili.

The men told police their accomplice died in the car after being shot by the doctor during the robbery: they had dumped his body and told his family where to find him, before burning the vehicle.

The case was postponed until next Tuesday for further investigations.

 

The Witness article – Murdered doctor remembered as a kind-hearted soul dedicated to child healthcare (Open access)

News24 – He was 'a pure community guy': Westbury residents shattered by death of beloved pharmacist

The Witness article – Pietermaritzburg paediatrician’s body found in the boot of her car (Open access)

TimesLIVE – Case of two men accused of murder of doctor postponed

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Pietermaritzburg pharmacist murdered

 

Bara oral hygienist shot and killed

 

Eastern Cape doctor shot and killed

 

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