Coronavirus deaths: These are the casualties of the pandemic in South Africa

Seven people have died since the coronavirus pandemic reached South Africa less than a month ago, based on what is known since Thursday, April 2.

Five deaths have been confirmed by the national Department of Health, while a sixth case, Professor Gita Ramjee, was confirmed by the science community on Wednesday. A seventh, a moulana in KwaZulu-Natal, was confirmed by his family and the burial service, also on Wednesday.

Madeleine van Wyk

The country’s first fatality was confirmed on Friday after the Cape Town woman died at Medi-Clinic in Durbanville.

According to the health department, Van Wyk, 48, had tested positive days prior to her death.

She had been suffering from an underlying disease - pulmonary embolism – with her husband confirming that a blood clot had recently been discovered in one of her lungs.

Employed at Sanlam, one of South Africa's biggest financial services groups, Van Wyk was also an alumni of the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

A friend, in a Facebook post, described her as having a good sense of humour.

"She had a way. Always calm...”

Van Wyk died on day one of the countrywide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic. On that Friday, SA also saw that the number of infected people had tipped the 1 000 mark.

Andre Keijser

The 74-year-old Ladysmith pensioner died on Saturday, days after returning with flu-like symptoms from a family holiday at the Kruger National Park.

Keijser had been in ICU and ventilation at the time. He had been diagnosed the day before his death.

According to the department, he had presented with symptoms of respiratory distress, shortness of breath, cardiac failure, decreased saturation and his temperature was above 38 degrees.

Keijser’s wife, Dirkje, told the Daily News that her husband was strong, fit and led a healthy lifestyle.

Dirkje, who is currently in self-quarantine, said Andre was a “beautiful soul” and had died alone as his family weren’t allowed to see him, she told the publication.

She, her husband and an unnamed friend had reportedly spent four days camping at the Berg-en-Dal Camp, four days at Skukuza and the final three days at Satara.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, at the time of Keijser’s death, said it had been reported to the department that he had had an “underlying skin cancer condition”, a melanoma. Dirkje, however, had told Netwerk24 that the test results had been “clean” after her husband had had a tumour removed.

John Hlangeni

The elderly pastor, 85, died at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein on Monday.

Free State Health MEC Montseng Tsiu said the pastor had served at the Global Reconciliation Church and was “revered for having planted many churches in his lifetime”.

Hlangeni had been at a church gathering in Bloemfontein, which was attended by five international guests who later tested positive for the coronavirus, Mkhize had confirmed.

ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, the party's chief whip, Steve Swart, and evangelist Angus Buchan all tested positive after attending the event hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries last month.

Meshoe had been present at a meeting held at Tuynhuys in Parliament about two weeks ago when President Cyril Ramaphosa interacted with political party leaders on government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza have both tested negative.

OFM on Wednesday reported that Hlangeni’s wife was in a stable condition in hospital.

The provincial health department told the radio station that it could not yet reveal her test results, which would be announced “in accordance with proper procedure”.

Louis Wilsenach

The marketing guru died on Monday. He had been admitted to a private hospital in Mogale City on Saturday after testing positive for the coronavirus.

According to the health department, the 79-year-old man had presented with respiratory distress.

He was the creative behind advertisements for products like NikNaks, Simba and Ouma rusks, Netwerk24 reported. He had also done marketing work for the National Party in the 1980s.

The poet, artist and writer had grown up doing missionary work and owned an advertising agency.

Louis Wilsenach

Described in social media tributes as immensely talented, a mentor and pioneer, his daughter Mia Ziervogel wrote in a Facebook post that her father’s death was "a big gift of showing us that staying home is critical".

Ziervogel told the Afrikaans publication that her father contracted the virus after he travelled to George on March 13 and flew back five days later.

She reportedly said that Wilsenach had been ill for 10 days and had tried to isolate himself before going to hospital as he struggled to breathe.

45-year-old KZN teacher*

The Platt Drive Primary School teacher from Isipingo died on Tuesday.

According to the Department of Education, the 45-year-old tested positive a week ago.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), of which she was a member, said she had suffered severe abdominal pains and was first admitted to Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital early in March.

She was discharged two and a half weeks later.

“After being discharged, she fell more ill and was readmitted and diagnosed with asthma,” the union’s secretariat said in a statement.

Sadtu said her children have been admitted to hospital and a friend, who had collected her from hospital when she had been discharged, had also tested positive.

She herself had not gone back to the school.

According to the department, another teacher at the school tested positive. It urged anyone who may have been in contact with her to present themselves for testing.

*News24 has opted not to name her for now to protect the identity of her children who are in hospital, or until circumstances change.

Professor Gita Ramjee

The world has lost a bold and compassionate leader in the response to HIV, The Aurum Institute group CEO Professor Gavin Churchyard said of Ramjee, whose death was confirmed on Tuesday.

The decorated and world-renowned scientist was the chief scientific officer at the institute and worked tirelessly to research ways to prevent HIV infection, especially among women.

She died in an Umhlanga hospital after being admitted for pneumonia, Daily Maverick reported.

According to the publication, Ramjee had recently returned from a trip to London.

A critical player in the field of HIV prevention clinical trials, she was acknowledged internationally for her expertise in the field of microbicide research, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention.

Gita Ramjee

Two years ago, she received the Outstanding Female Scientist Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships for her life's work, which focused on finding new HIV prevention methods.

Ramjee was the chief specialist scientist and director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit at the SA Medical Research Council before her appointment at The Aurum Institute.

She was a reviewer and editor of several scientific journals and a member of several local and international committees and advisory groups, including the Academy of Science of South Africa and the South African National Aids Council.

Moulana Yusuf Tootla

A KwaZulu-Natal family are now in isolation after their patriarch, Moulana Yusuf Tootla, 80, died of Covid-19 on Tuesday.

Tootla's daughter, Saeeda, who was in contact with her father after his return to SA, confirmed he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 by a private lab.

She said he had returned from a trip to Delhi, India, and had been unwell for a few days.

"He had fully recovered at home by this past weekend. On Monday (March 30) evening, he felt a bit distressed… He then peacefully returned to his maker."

Goolam Dhoodat, of the KwaDukuza Muslim Burial Service, helped to coordinate the funeral arrangements for the moulana. He said, with Tootla having been infected with Covid-19, the burial process was significantly different.

He said the body was transported to Durban, where general procedures for the body were completed.

"When they were done, the body was brought back. He was buried at 05:15 in the morning. The body did not go back to the house. As per health regulations, three body bags were used. The whole family could not come to the funeral. Only 30 attended."

The moulana leaves behind his wife, 10 children, 24 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

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