Professor Bongani Mayosi honoured at informal UCT memorial

Hundreds of students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) paid their respects to Dean of Health Sciences Professor Bongani Mayosi at an informal memorial service on Monday.

Mayosi, who was born in Mthatha in 1967 and died on Friday, was fondly remembered as a source of encouragement and inspiration.

"He really took my hand to mentor me as a specialist physician. It wasn't an easy journey and I had some struggles along the way," PhD candidate Dr Phindile Gina said.

"My passion was always in infectious disease, particularly HIV and TB, which was very much in line with his research. I'm doing my third year of my PhD and I was hoping he would see my graduation next year."

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Younger students who did not have the opportunity to interact with Mayosi on a personal level also attended the memorial.

Second-year medical student Kutlwisiso Setlogelo from Durban, believes that the world-renowned cardiologist set an example for all students.

"I just wanted to get to know him more, given what everyone has been saying about him. I believe that he saw potential in each and every one of us and he entrusted us to take the baton and we need to run as fast as we can," she said.

"He demonstrated to us that there's no such thing as fear. Clearly, coming from Mthatha and eventually becoming the dean is such a beautiful example of how we should take hold of every opportunity and keep rising."

Fellow student Gladys Osuigwe was saddened by his death.

"He was quite a great man – he has great achievements to his name," Osuigwe said.

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"He was a role model to all of us, especially as a black child. The way he passed on was very sad and it was a tragic way to end such a great story."

On Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa also extended his condolences to Mayosi's family.

"On behalf of government and South Africans as a whole, we convey our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and relatives, and the health science fraternity. May his soul rest in peace," Ramaphosa said.

A formal memorial service will be held at UCT on Thursday.