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A medial worker is pictured working in the COVID-19 Field Hospital in Nasrec, Johannesburg.
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South Africans Pay Tribute to Health Hero Dr. Sindi van Zyl After Her Death From COVID-19


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Thousands of South Africans and millions of people around the world have died from COVID-19 in the last year. Frontline health care workers, such as Dr. Sindi van Zyl are the most at risk and have been some of the hardest hit by the virus. The United Nations’ Global Goal 3 calls for good health and well-being, and this can only be achieved if we work together to bring this pandemic to an end. Join us and take action on this issue here.

South Africans are mourning the loss of Dr. Sindi van Zyl, a medical doctor, radio personality, social media influencer, and health activist who died aged 45 on Saturday from COVID-19. 

The physician was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the beginning of the year and she was hospitalised in February, after she reportedly had trouble breathing. News of her death came on the afternoon of April 10 and was confirmed in an official statement by her family. 

“It is however with profound sadness that we confirm the passing of our Wife, Mother, Sister ,and Daughter, Sindisiwe van Zyl,” the statement said. “Affectionately known by her friends and family, she was a great doctor, true friend, and sister. Her love for family, friends, work, and community is well known.”

“Sindi always offered support and great advice to educate those around her,” the family statement continued. “Not only was she a beacon of love and light on her Kaya FM show Sidebar with Sindi and all her social media platforms, but she genuinely loved and gave endlessly to all she knew with grace and kindness.” 

Dr. Frans Skosana who was part of the medical team that cared for van Zyl at Netcare Olivedale Hospital in Johannesburg took to Twitter and said: “I’m truly humbled. What a selfless and caring doctor. Now I understand why she spent days whilst on life support, referring her patients to other doctors.”

Her death has left a hole in South Africans’ hearts, while also leaving a gap in the health care and media industries for someone who could provide accurate and accessible information in a caring and compassionate tone. 

Following her passing, Kaya FM, the radio station that hosted her radio show Sidebar with Sindi released a statement in tribute to the physician, in which the station touched on her shining personality and showed appreciation for her knowledge and expertise as a health care provider. 

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“We will not forget her openness, the long conversations in the hallways, and her laughter, which reverberated across our studios,” the statement said. “Most importantly, we will not forget the mark she left on our society as a health care worker.” 

“Even before the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Sindi made herself accessible to people from all facets of life seeking medical counsel,” the Kaya FM tribute continued. “She changed the lives of many, especially those who struggled with information and access to our health care system.”

As the global pandemic steadily began to sink its teeth into life as we knew it, van Zyl became a trusted voice to turn to, who busted myths and answered queries, who comforted citizens and openly related to their concerns. 

Just a week before her death, South Africans came together to showcase their appreciation of the radio personality. After her husband, Marinus van Zyl, made a call out to citizens asking for contributions to a fundraising campaign to help with his wife’s high medical bills. South Africans shared the call on social media and gave what they had to help.

This fundraising effort quickly trended with the hashtag #GiftSindiLife on Twitter, leading to donations from celebrities such as television presenter Maps Maponyane and rapper Cassper Nyovest, and well-known companies such as Nando’s and Woolworths. 

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Health care workers such as van Zyl have been the most at risk of COVID-19 due to the nature of their jobs. In a national address in December last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that over 38,000 health care workers had tested positive for coronavirus, and nearly 5,000 of them were admitted to hospitals. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed in January this year that South Africa has officially lost 339 health care workers to COVID-19. 

Thousands of tributes to van Zyl have been circulating on  ocial media and South Africans have continued to share their memories of the health hero.

Asanda Sizani

Former Editor of Glamour Magazine

Maps Maponyane

TV Personality and Model

Cassper Nyovest

Rapper

Zozibini Tunzi

Miss Universe 2019

Fikile Mbalula

South Africa’s Minister of Transport

Fellow South Africans