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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.108 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2018




Johan Benjamin Janeke




Dr Johan Janeke, an esteemed ear, nose and throat surgeon, died in September 2017. He was 78.

Dr Janeke succumbed to multilobar pneumonia after a valiant forty-day struggle. He was the first South African ENT surgeon to perform a cochlear implant.

After attaining his MB ChB at the University of Pretoria in 1963, he completed a PhD in otolaryngology at the University of Amsterdam six years later. He then trained at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where received the prestigious Ben Schuster award for outstanding research in nasal reconstruction. At one time he treated Elvis Presley there. In 1975 he commenced private practice in Johannesburg.

Dr Janeke's life was bejewelled with encounters with famous people. He met Bob Hope and was for three years an anatomy demonstrator under Prof. Phillip Tobias at Wits Medical School. But most precious to him was a meeting with Nelson Mandela.

Dr Janeke was passionate in his profession, connecting with patients and their families in a special way. Although learned and gifted with wisdom, he was a humble man who made it his mission to treat people at every level with the same care, dignity and respect as the rich and famous. In recognition of this he was presented with the prestigious Christiaan Barnard Memorial Award and medal for his contribution to medicine and the people of South Africa.

Alongside his career in private practice, Dr Janeke was a passionate scholar, an academic and an author. He wrote and published several books in the field of otolaryngology, including ENT Out of Africa, which was later translated into French and used for medical training in North Africa. The English version was used at Wits Medical School. Dr Janeke wrote articles for several medical journals. He served on the editorial board of Modern Medicine.

He was innovative and sought new, cost-effective ways to help the hearing impaired. He developed the ABC Implant as an affordable alternative to the costly cochlear implant.

When he was no longer able to practise, Dr Janeke turned his hand to painting. He soon developed an easy style that he used to capture his fascination with nature, particularly trees.

Dr Janeke was unapologetically Christian, and those values showed through in his personal life as well as in his practice. He leaves his wife Margaret, six children and six grandchildren.


Mike van Dyk

Johannesburg, South Africa.

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