Adè van Heerden
2017 was undoubtedly a good year for some of South Africa’s medical doctors, with some getting the recognition they so well deserve.

One of the doctors who shone this year was Dr Viwe Mtwesi, 32, who became the youngest black female cardiologist in the country.

Dr Adè van Heerden showed us beauty and brains can go hand in hand when she was crowned Miss South Africa last month, while some doctors, such as Sivuyile Madikana, made waves on social media to shine a light on medical issues in the public sector.

In case you missed all these, here are the top five doctors South Africa could not stop talking about this year:

* Mtwesi became the youngest black female specialist in cardiology when she graduated at Wits University’s College of Medicine in October. She kept the nation abuzz on social media with celebrations when her story came into the public domain.

Long before she qualified, she had already made a name for herself after she was chosen as part of former president Nelson Mandela’s medical team. She has since been honoured by President Jacob Zuma with a Mandela Medallion gold medal for treating the former president.

While her journey has by no means been easy, she is not daunted by what lies ahead. When asked how she kept motivated in her field, she admits that there was a time when “I was overwhelmed and thought the industry did not accommodate females, but with my supervisor’s advice and encouragement, I kept going”.


* Dr Sivu Madikana has been dubbed as a classy and sophisticated public-sector doctor when he made waves on social media for using the platform to influence and educate people on medical issues.

The young physician and fashionista was announced as one of GQ’s top 10 best-dressed South African men last year and is listed as one of South Africa’s top 200 young people this year.

When Madikana, popularly known as Dr Sivu, is not talking about medical matters or advocating a healthy lifestyle, he is modelling and bringing the heat on his Instagram page.

This year the young doctor completed his MBA, focused on using social media as a health-awareness tool.

“The power of social media will soon become unparalleled. The tool has allowed us to reach places where traditional forms of media would take years to reach. We can use it in the public health arena to combat worldwide issues.”

* Dr Ncumisa Jilata proved that hard work does pay off when she became South Africa’s youngest female neurosurgeon and one of only five black female brain surgeons in South Africa, breaking down barriers for women in the medical field

The Mthatha-born doctor didn’t have her heart set on becoming a neurosurgeon until her senior years at Mthatha High School when she began taking an interest in neuroscience.

In an interview with Destiny Magazine, Jilata recognises that it is commonplace to be second-guessed when you are a woman in the industry. With all that, she adds she has always been aware that, ultimately, it is one’s work ethic that shines through. She hopes her achievement will inspire more female medical students to add to much-needed surgical expertise on the continent.

* Adè Van Heerden, a medical doctor and a second lieutenant in the SA Military Health Services, went from scrubs to the crown when she took over as Miss SA in November.

Van Heerden was the first princess in this year’s competition, but automatically became Miss SA when Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was crowned Miss Universe last month.

Speaking to Independent Media earlier, she said the most common stereotype about medical doctors is that “if I’m dressed up or even look too beautiful, I’m not respected as a doctor”.

She added: “People tend to disrespect me because of my appearance.

“That can be really hard for me because I like dressing up and being the most beautiful version of myself,” she added.


* Dr Musa Mthombeni is well known by many as a child star when he was a presenter on a YoTV children’s show on SABC 1.

After he left YoTV, he pursued a career in the entertainment industry, including hosting a midnight slot show on YFM while studying medicine at Wits University.

He admits there was a time when he had to take a break from showbiz to focus on his studies. “I have always wanted to become a doctor from a vyoung age, so the presenting job just came along because I loved TV.”

He made his comeback on television screens two months back on Trending SA on SABC 3, replacing Shaka Sisulu who left the show.

His journey began when he started making guest appearances on the show when Pabi Moloi, one of the presenters went on maternity leave.

After TV and now medicine, he still can’t choose between the two because he loves them both.