Ruth Bomvana: Picture: Supplied
Ruth Bomvana: Picture: Supplied

City of Joburg mourns death of Bara’s first black nursing tutor Ruth Bomvana

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Jul 29, 2020

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Johannesburg - The City of Joburg has paid tribute to 98-year-old Ruth Bomvana, the first black nursing tutor at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, who died this week.

Bomvana assumed the position in 1948 after the establishment of the nursing college at the hospital, making her responsible for the training of nurses from all over the country.

According to Sibongile Mgcina, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health & Social Development in the City, Bomvana gave 45 years of her “well-lived life“ for a functional and responsive health system.

“We call upon all our health officials to take the baton from Gogo Bomvana and use her resilience, dedication and commitment as instruments to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mgcina said.

Bomvana was born in 1922 at Bensonvale, in the Eastern Cape and started her training as a nurse at the old Johannesburg General Hospital at the age of 16.

She proceeded with her training in midwifery at Bridgeman Memorial, which she completed in 1947.

Bridgeman Memorial was closed by the apartheid authorities in 1963 on the grounds that it catered to predominantly black patients in a white area.

Garden City Clinic now operates on the land that Bridgeman Memorial used to stand on.

From 1948, Bomvana worked as a general nurse in Johannesburg General Hospital until she and other nurses were moved to the ‘Non-European’ of the then Baragwanath Hospital which was a military hospital at the time.

“In October 1948, Gogo Bomvana became the first black nursing tutor after the establishment of the nursing college at Baragwanath.

“It was at this time that she further trained nurses from other hospitals to sharpen her skills as a nursing educator; a role she held until 1976 when she was appointed as a matron at the same hospital.

Mgcina said as a matron at Chris Hani, Bomvana was instrumental in setting up Primary Health Care provision at district clinics which came under the administration of the then Transvaal Provincial Administration.

“Following the June 16 Student Uprising in 1976, she worked tirelessly to re-establish services in Soweto clinics together with dedicated nurses and doctors.

“Apart from nursing services, Gogo Bomvana was also part of a collective that introduced dental services to some clinics in Soweto, Orlando Clinic being the first clinic with dental services.

“She also helped to establish the Jabavu Home for the Aged and Orlando Children’s Home in 1977.”

Upon her retirement in 1983, Mgcina said, Bomvana was one of the founding members of the Soweto Retired Professional Society. She said Bomvana also had the opportunity to share her wealth of knowledge with international health practitioners, when she addressed the International Biographical Society Conference, in the United Kingdom as well as in New Orleans, US.

“She has left an indelible mark in the service of our country and we are truly grateful for her contribution. May her soul rest in peace,” Mgcina said.


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