Drive-by memorial as condolences pour in for Dr Lungile Pepeta

Attending a drive-through memorial service on Sunday are, from left, Professor Lungile Pepeta’s daughter, Kunwago Pepeta, son Lungaka Pepeta and wife Vuyo Pepeta
PAYING RESPECTS: Attending a drive-through memorial service on Sunday are, from left, Professor Lungile Pepeta’s daughter, Kunwago Pepeta, son Lungaka Pepeta and wife Vuyo Pepeta
Image: WERNER HILLS

As messages of condolences continue to stream in for renowned paediatric cardiologist and academic Professor Lungile Pepeta, a number of people opted to paid their final respects on Sunday during a drive-by past Pepeta’s home in Summerstrand.

Pepeta, who served at the helm of Dora Nginza’s paediatrics department for seven years and was appointed as the dean of Nelson Mandela University’s medical school in January 2017, died on Friday from complications after contracting Covid-19.    

At the weekend, higher education, science and innovation minister Blade Nzimande sent condolences to the Pepeta family and said his death was a great loss.

“Prof Pepeta was a renowned paediatric cardiologist and his death is a great loss to the Nelson Mandela University, the medical and health fraternity and SA in general,” Nzimande said in a statement.

Pepeta was also elected chair of the Council for Medical Schemes in June — the regulator of the medical schemes industry.

Nelson Mandela University faculty of health sciences students as well as other students and acquaintances of the late Dr Lungile Pepeta formed a silent guard of honour outside his Summerstrand home on Sunday
STANDING TOGETHER: Nelson Mandela University faculty of health sciences students as well as other students and acquaintances of the late Dr Lungile Pepeta formed a silent guard of honour outside his Summerstrand home on Sunday
Image: WERNER HILLS

After news of Pepeta’s death broke on Friday, NMU vice-chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa said Pepeta was extremely passionate and committed to SA’s health sector, particularly in the Eastern Cape, where he was raised, studied and spent the bulk of his career.

“More recently, [Pepeta] helped spearhead the university’s response to Covid-19 within the institution, in communities and society at large, working with health-care professionals, and education, business and political leadership,” Muthwa said.

“He has a proven track record as an agent of change wherever he has worked — from his stint as a medical intern in 1999 in the rural Dordrecht hospital right up to his tenure as executive dean of the faculty of health sciences, where he showed stellar stewardship.

“He was an embodiment of servant leadership,” Muthwa said.

His death was announced to Dora Nginza staff members on Friday evening by hospital COO Dr Jaline Kotze.

Dr Lungile Pepeta died on Friday from complications after contracting Covid-19
SADLY MISSED: Dr Lungile Pepeta died on Friday from complications after contracting Covid-19    
Image: MARK WEST

In a WhatsApp message, Kotze said: “It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Prof Pepeta. Dr Pepeta and family please accept our sincere condolences.”

Pepeta’s wife, Vuyo, is also a doctor.

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane also passed on his messages of condolences to the Pepeta family and those who worked closely with him.

On Saturday, Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, said the premier was shocked and pained by Pepeta’s death.

Sicwetsha said the premier wished the Pepeta family strength as they dealt with the untimely death of their loved one.

“When premier Mabuyane spoke to him recently, professor Pepeta indicated that he was recovering well and he was looking forward to getting back to his family and to work with his colleagues to save lives.

“His death comes at the time when he was part of the 15-member panel of experts advising the provincial government on Covid-19.

“The panel of experts came in at the time when the province was battling Covid-19 pandemic to help fight the virus,” Sicwetsha said.

As a renowned paediatric cardiologist, Pepeta had extensive experience in working with key stakeholders in the health and higher education sector, provincially, nationally, continentally and beyond.

Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said Pepeta left when great minds such as his were needed to fight the vicious and invisible enemy, Covid-19.

“The people of the Eastern Cape and SA will treasure his memory forever. We appreciate the role he played in his various roles in the medical fraternity.

“His passing will be felt for a very long time. On behalf of the department of health, we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to Professor Pepeta’s wife, Dr Vuyo and the entire Pepeta family.

“Professor Pepeta played his part and he did so with excellence.

“His contributions are immeasurable. We dip our banners in honour of this great son of the soil.

“Professor Pepeta represented the best that Mbizana and the Eastern Cape has to offer,” Gomba said.

Social media was also abuzz throughout the weekend with well wishes for the Pepeta family as people recalled his character and the impact he made on various individuals.

HeraldLIVE

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X