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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.100 n.2 Pretoria Feb. 2010




Tshimbi Mathivha (October 1961 -December 2009)



The untimely death of Professor Tshimbi Mathivha on 1 December 2009 has shattered all those who were closely associated with her and also the wider cardiological and medical community. Tshimbiluni Mavhangu Mathivha was born in Limpopo in October 1961. Anaesthetics. In 1992 she was admitted as a Fellow of the College of Physicians of South Africa by examination. After this she decided to pursue a career in cardiology and joined the training programme in the sub-department of cardiology at Wentworth Hospital. She underwent a year of training at Hammersmith Hospital in London under Dr Celia Oakley, where she acquired considerable experience in clinical cardiology and echocardiography.

She was appointed by the then Minister of Health as a member, executive member, and vice-chairperson of the Medicines Control Council of South Africa. She served the Council with dignity and made us proud. She also served as a member of the Executive Committee and as chairperson of the Education Committee of the South African Heart Association from 2007 to 2009, and was a member of the Selection Committee of the prestigious Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship since 2007.

On completion of her training she was appointed as a consultant in the Department, with full clinical responsibilities. She accepted the challenge and acquitted herself in an exemplary manner. She often acted as head of the Department when I was away and handled all problems admirably.

She associated with all - porters, nurses, paramedics, and medical and administrative staff - and was loved by all. Being the first 'black' female cardiologist trained in the Department she became a role model for all around her. She was loved by her patients for her humanity, and highly respected by junior and senior staff in all disciplines at Wentworth Hospital. Even under the most difficult circumstances she never played the 'race card', but was always dignified. Even when tested to the limit she was never malicious or said an ill word of anyone. She only saw the good in people. She never partook in intrigues that plague many academic departments. She taught many of us humility and how to behave with dignity, which we will not forget.

It was a sad day when she decided to move to Pretoria, which was nearer to home. I had no hesitation in recommending her appointment, which was well deserved. Needless to say, I experienced pride and joy in seeing Tshimbi maturing and accepting the challenge of departmental headship. The unit was taking shape and she was keen on embarking on several research programmes, but alas fate overtook her ambitions and plans.

We extend our sympathies and condolences to her family. We mourn her loss, but the loss to her family is greater. May she rest in peace.


Abdul S Mitha
Emeritus Professor, Cardiology
University of KwaZulu-Natal

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