TRAGIC: Professor Bongani Mayosi, in front of Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
TRAGIC: Professor Bongani Mayosi, in front of Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

UCT launches probe of top cardiologist’s suicide

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Aug 6, 2018

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THE University of Cape Town has instituted an inquiry into the death of renowned South African cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi, whose funeral was held at the weekend.

The Black Academic Caucus (BAC) at UCT had called for an investigation at the weekend, but the institution said on Sunday that it had already initiated an inquiry shortly after Mayosi’s death.

The family of the late UCT health sciences dean said Mayosi had for the past two years been battling depression and ended his life on July 27.

The BAC said the inquiry must be set up in consultation with especially black staff and students who had on occasions expressed their experiences of being marginalised at UCT.

“An understanding of the working conditions in institutions such as UCT is key to such an inquiry,” the BAC said who also called for the process to be transparent.

“It is our firm view that the results of this inquiry will not only help us understand the circumstances leading to the passing away of Professor Mayosi.

“Its results will make a huge contribution to identifying in fairly precise terms what it is that is wrong with the UCT structures and how these could be addressed to the benefit of especially the historically and currently marginalised groups.”

In 2017, Mayosi went on leave for three months, and after returning, collapsed in his office.

He then wrote to former vice-chancellor Max Price asking to resign from his position, according to the institution.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said that shortly after hearing of the death of Mayosi, vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng had initiated an inquiry into his death.

“The university recognises that however deeply distressing the occasion is, the passing of Professor Mayosi provides the space for all within the UCT community to reflect with integrity, honesty and compassion on the loss we have experienced and how we can support each other as individuals and as a community, and create caring communities.

“It is a moment to build the university community,” Moholola said but did not provide further information about the scope of the investigation.

Mayosi’s funeral service was held on Saturday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. It had been declared a special provincial official funeral by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mayosi’s brother Sipho Mayosi said: “I will be failing myself and the entire family if I don’t say this, without fear or favour: that I hope and wish and in the same breath, demand, that UCT heed the call made by the BAC to investigate the death and leave no stone unturned on the circumstances surrounding the death of my brother, so that we may have closure.

“Otherwise, his legacy would be in vain.”

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