A prominent city medical specialist – helping dozens of young underprivileged South Africans reach their dreams of becoming doctors – has been gunned down in a hijacking.
The killing of 41-year-old Dr John Moche, described as a well-known fighter in the campaign for affordable health care for all South Africans, has left the country’s medical fraternity reeling and has raised anger about crimes perpetrated against those trying to save lives.
According to police, Moche was shot through the heart by two men in Riviera as he sat in his Range Rover talking to a friend on Friday night.
This was shortly after he left his offices at Steve Biko Academic Hospital where he headed the dermatology department.
After pulling him from the vehicle and dumping him in the road, the gunmen forced his friend from the car before racing off, later abandoning it in Atteridgeville.
The murder has shattered his family. They say that since childhood all that Moche – who was internationally recognised – wanted to do was to be a doctor and to save lives.
“It was in his blood. It was a calling and he wanted to help South Africa. He wanted to build this country into a better place and put his all into improving health care in this country.
“He put his all into helping young people reach their dreams of becoming doctors. From tutoring to other forms of assistance, he was determined to make sure South Africa got the best doctors.
“He was a role model for many young people from our home in Marapyane outside Hammanskraal, with many following in my brother’s footsteps to become doctors,” said his brother, Simon Moche.
Moche said his brother, who was married with three children, ensured that everyone had the right to access good, quality health care.
“From when we were children growing up, John was always playing doctor. He was never a clock-watching doctor.
“He was always on duty and it didn’t matter who needed his help he would always give it.
“He worked at 1 Military Hospital and during the Soccer World Cup he helped one of Fifa’s vice-presidents when he needed medical assistance.
“A true servant of the people and a philanthropist who would only charge people if they could afford it, he served South Africa with distinction.
“That is all that he ever wanted to do and now this has been done.
“Those who have done this have not just robbed our family of a loving, kind, caring, humble and dedicated family member, but the whole country,” he said.
Calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty, Moche said there was no respect for South Africa’s laws.
“Crime doesn’t know race. Criminals don’t know race. The criminals are in charge. They are the heroes. This is the poison of South Africa, where the constitution and the country’s laws mean nothing,” Moche said.
The Gauteng health department said it was shocked by the murder.
Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe and department head Nomonde Xundu sent their condolences to Moche’s family.
“We call on residents to assist the police in their investigations and to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested,” the MEC said.
Moche was also mourned by his colleagues at the hospital, including chief executive, Dr Ernest Kenoshi. He described him as a hard working professional and a good friend.
Dr Mahlane Phalane, South African Medical Association spokesman, slammed the killing.
“These senseless killings and attacks are a huge problem and make it extremely difficult for us to do our work.
“These men have robbed the country of a person who was heavily involved in the bettering of the lives of all South Africans.
“It will take decades to replace someone like this. The damage that has been done to the health care of this country can never be undone,” he said.
Dr Poppy Ramathuba, national chairwoman of the Public Sector Doctors, said the death was a huge loss.
“Surely a person’s life cannot simply be reduced to the price of a car?
“What exactly is it the nation wants when the very same people who did this are the ones who complain about the lack of health care.
“This is a person who was an academic, who was responsible for producing specialists which we as a country simply do not have.
“He was an academic rather than open his own practice to treat the affluent and rich.
“Instead he opted to treat people who simply cannot access private health care.
“We as a country have been robbed of someone who is irreplaceable,” she said.
Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said no arrests had been made.
He said the murder happened as Moche sat in his car talking to a friend.
“The victim was the only person who was shot during the attack.
“The suspects fled with the vehicle which they later abandoned in Atteridgeville.
“All of the victim’s personal items have been found.
“Because the friend was so traumatised, police have been unable to take a statement from her. This will be done later this week,” he said.
The motive was believed to be armed robbery, he said.
Moche’s memorial service will be held at Steve Biko Academic Hospital at 12.30pm on Thursday.
He will be buried in Marapyane on Saturday at 7am. - Pretoria News