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“We are profoundly saddened, and our deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of our colleagues aboard Netcare 1 air ambulance,” said a statement from Craig Grindell, managing director of Netcare 911.

The helicopter was carrying a pilot and four healthcare personnel on board when it crashed near Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday afternoon. One of the doctors on board had been called out to help save the life of Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu. Sadly, he succumbed to Covid-19 related complications.

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,” said Grindell.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families, loved ones and colleagues of Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, an anaesthetist, Dr Curnick Siyabonga (Sia) Mahlangu a cardiothoracic surgeon and Mpho Xaba, a specialist theatre nurse for cardiothoracic and transplant, all from Netcare Milpark Hospital; Sinjin Joshua Farrance, an advanced life support paramedic at Netcare 911, as well as the pilot of the helicopter, Mark Stoxreiter who worked for National Airways Corporation.”

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En route for transfer

“The specialised 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.

“We are shocked beyond words at the tragic loss of these healthcare heroes. The details surrounding the crash are not yet clear. We will however issue a further statement once more information becomes available and the next of kin of those aboard have been notified,” concluded Grindell.

Team called on to help save Jackson Mthembu

In an interview with eNCA, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the doctors who attended to Mthembu did ‘everything they could’ to support the minister.

He conveyed his sorrow at the tragic helicopter crash.

“We know their dedication, hard work and effort, and we want to convey our appreciation and condolences to the families.”

Tributes poured in

“There are no words adequate to describe our sense of profound loss and grief at this terrible time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families,” said Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.