HISTORY-MAKERS: Cape Town’s first black radiographers, who qualified at Somerset Hospital, met after 50 years for a reunion at Kirstenbosch. From left, Irma Hendricks, Galima Lalkhen, Brenda Daniels, Nazeema Ebrahim and Kalavati Vallabh. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - This year marks 50 years since the first five non-white women in South Africa trained to became qualified radiographers at the Dr LAPA Munnik School of Radiography in Somerset Hospital.

The group will be having a reunion for the first time in 46 years. One of the radiographers, Irma Hendricks, 68, joked that she hoped everyone was still recognisable after all these years.

“We split after we completed our courses. Kalavati Vallabh now lives in Toronto, Canada, Galima Lalkhen is in Cape Town, Nazeema Ebrahim moved to the North West province, Brenda Daniels found herself in Australia after she got married, Galima Balabh remained in Cape Town and I moved to Johannesburg, but we never lost touch,” she said.

“I was 18 years old when I decided to do the radiography course. My love for the industry was basically passed on to me by my mother who was a trained nurse in her day.

“I also didn’t want to move far from home to study because I was part of a very close-knit family,” she said. Hendricks described the feeling of becoming a radiologist as “barrier breaking”.

“I felt good when I qualified as a radiographer. To know that I am part of something so profound by doing what I love is something I cannot actually put into words,” she said.

HISTORY-MAKERS: Cape Town’s first black radiographers, who qualified at Somerset Hospital.

Radiography was a rewarding career, she said. “At the start of my career, the salary was very low but that is not where I got my satisfaction from. Every person and every case was different and unique and I felt very fulfilled after being able to help or assist everyone in some way or another.”

Hendricks said that though the drastic changes in technology had made the industry more difficult to work in, she still worked part-time, for the Intercare hospital in Kempton Park.

The group celebrated their reunion at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden on Thursday.

Cape Argus