Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Professor Bongani Mayosi, has reportedly committed suicide on Friday, 27 July 2018 following a struggle with depression.

Prof Mayosi, who was 51 years old, was born in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape and completed his medical training at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and his postgraduate work at UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital. He would later do his PhD at Oxford University in the UK, where he did ground-breaking work on the genetics of cardiomyopathies seen in South Africans.

“His commitment to the public healthcare sector was exemplary and manifested in his research. He passionately pursued rheumatic heart disease, the leading cause of valvular heart disease in the developing world, and tuberculous pericardial disease, so very prevalent in Africa,” said Chairperson of the South African Medical Association (SAMA), Dr Mzukisi Grootboom.

“His death is a great loss not only to his family, friends and colleagues, but the entire medical fraternity and our country,” continued Dr Grootboom.

For his work, Prof Mayosi was awarded the country’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) in 2009. He became the first black Head of the Department of Medicine at UCT in 2006, and later promoted to the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT in 2016. He was a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and a former President of the College of Physicians of South Africa.

In 2017 he was the only African to be elected to the prestigious US National Academy of Medicine.

“Bongani was a friend, mentor, research collaborator and inspiration to very many. His kind spirit, scholarliness and humility shone through his very being. He had gravitas and an indomitable presence. A giant has truly fallen, way too soon, and his passing leaves a gaping void in medicine in South Africa,” said Dr Grootboom.

Prof Mayosi was a long-standing member of SAMA and one of the recent past presidents of the Cape Western Branch of the Association.

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