By Catherine Torrington
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 6 of VARSITY News.
Professor Bongani Mayosi’s suicide on the 27 July shocked the UCT community and South Africa at large. Mayosi was one of the most respected cardiologists and academics and was the Dean of Health Sciences at UCT at the time of his passing.
UCT mourned his passing with a memorial service, held on 2 August and provided transport to his funeral to any students and UCT staff who wished to pay their final respects. The UCT flag was flown at half mast in the past week. Mayosi’s funeral was attended by over two thousand people, including Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. “He was loved by his patients who remembered his gentle and impeccable bedside manner. As a teacher he was legendary. As a leader, Bongani was awesome,” said Professor Ntobeko Ntusi at the memorial service.
In the aftermath of his death, discussion began on why a prominent, brilliant academic would end his life. UCT was called to issue an inquiry into Masyosi’s death by the UCT Black Academic Caucus and Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, as well as by Mayosi’s family. Since then, Chair of UCT Council, Mr Sipho M Pityana, stated in a communication from UCT that a committee has been established to determine whether the inquiry would take place or not. “Consideration of the request for an inquiry is a necessary prior step before any decision to proceed with an inquiry,” said Pityana. “I ask that we approach the time ahead with the kind of care, diligence and compassion that will continue to honour the memory of Professor Mayosi.”