Tributes for SA doctor murdered in Canada: 'We lost a person who lived life to the fullest'

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The late Dr Walter Reynolds with his family.
The late Dr Walter Reynolds with his family.
  • South African-born doctor Walter "Tokkie" Reynolds was murdered in Canada.
  • An alleged drug addict attacked him after showing up at a clinic and demanding pills.
  • Reynolds reportedly emigrated to Canada to escape high crime levels in South Africa.

"We lost a friend. A brother. A son. A father and a husband. We all lost a person who lived life to the fullest."

Tributes have been pouring in following the death of Walter "Tokkie" Reynolds, the South African-born doctor who was allegedly murdered by a hammer-wielding "drug addict" in Canada on Monday.

Johan Myburgh, a friend and colleague of Reynolds, has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help his family with funeral and other expenses.

Reynolds, 45, died following the attack at a clinic in Red Deer, Alberta, in Canada. It was reported that an alleged drug addict attacked him after showing up at the clinic and demanding pills, which Reynolds refused to dispense.

According to court documents, Deng Mabiour, 54, has been charged with first-degree murder, assault of a peace officer and assault with a weapon (a machete or imitation of it), according to the Edmonton Sun. His case has been postponed to 9 September.

Alberta premier Jason Kennedy tweeted: "Saddened to learn of this horrendous and fatal attack on a Red Deer doctor. Can't imagine the pain and sorrow his family and clinic staff are now going through. On behalf of all Albertans, our deepest condolences go out to them."

According to Netwerk24, Reynolds ironically emigrated to Canada to escape high crime levels in South Africa.

READ | SA doctor allegedly murdered in hammer attack by 'drug addict' at Canadian clinic

Myburgh said the campaign will solely be used by Anelia, Reynolds' wife, to pay for travel expenses for her and Walter's close family from South Africa, funeral expenses and his daughters' education.

"On a normal sunny Monday morning, 10 August, life changed forever for the Reynolds family. Walter tragically lost his life serving his community as a family doctor. An unimaginable, horrific act of violence took him away from his loving family. He was attacked in his office by a patient," Myburgh wrote.

Devastated and heartbroken

"His friends, colleagues and community mourn an exceptional human being lost too soon. We all are devastated and heartbroken. He was a devout father to two amazing young daughters and a loving husband. He loved to run, be healthy, and – most of all – spend time with his family."

By Friday morning, the campaign had raised in excess of $240 000 (R3.1 million).

Myburgh wrote: "We are overwhelmed by the tremendous outpouring of generosity shown by our community, our province, our country and even from people all over the world. Walter touched so many lives with his presence."

In a statement, Village Mall Clinic, where Reynolds was working when he died, described him as "sharp-witted, a devoted husband, and an amazing dad for his two beautiful young daughters".

"Our friend, Dr Reynolds – better known to us as Walter or Wallie – moved to Canada in 2003 with his wife, Anelia. They moved from Manitoba to Red Deer in 2006 and started working at Village Mall Clinic soon after," the statement read.

"He was passionate in life. If there was a race to run, then he was there. He ran from marathons to mud races, from Sinister Seven to Spartan challenges. He would be frequently seen jogging with his wife around the neighbourhood, or sweating it out at the gym.

"If there was a campsite to explore, then they were there. Always exploring. Always on an adventure. Always on the move... so full of life.

"With this same energy and dedication Walter put into life, he gave to each of his patients. From the delivery room to the hospice, he dedicated himself one hundred percent. If there was a task at work that needed to be done, he would step up to the plate. If a patient needed help, he walked the extra mile... and then some."

'One day at a time'

"How do you process the loss of a friend that always organised camping trips and entertainment for the kids; who made a telephone tag team to ensure tickets for everyone to attend the daddy-daughter dance? How do you comfort a wife whose soulmate was ripped from her? How do you replace a dad's presence in the lives of two little girls next to the fastball field, at the swim meet, or the dance recital? We can't. But with the grace of God, with the love of Jesus, and the peace of the Holy Spirit, we will take one step at a time. One day at a time."

"Our hearts go out to Walter and Anelia's families left behind in South Africa. We lost more than a colleague. We lost a friend. A brother. A son. A father and a husband. We all lost a person who lived life to the fullest."

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) also paid tribute to Reynolds. "Doctors dedicate their lives to improving the health and well-being of their patients. Together with other healthcare workers, they put themselves at risk every day to help others – especially now, as physicians and healthcare workers around the world fight Covid-19.

"Dr Reynolds' violent death is shocking and devastating. It reminds us of the dangers that healthcare and other frontline workers face daily," the OMA said.

A memorial service for Reynolds will be held on Saturday at 03:00 South African time. This will be live-streamed through the Red Deer Primary Care Network Facebook page.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.