Renowned scientist succumbs to virus

Date: 02 Apr 2020

WORLD-renowned Professor Gita Ramjee, hailed as a champion in the fight against HIV/Aids, succumbed to Covid19 on Tuesday.

Deputy President David Mabuza said Professor Ramjee’s passing, from complications related to the coronavirus, was a huge blow for the healthcare sector.

The world-acclaimed HIV scientist and researcher died in a Durban hospital. She had recently returned home following a trip to the UK.

It is understood that she had complications arising from asthma and pneumonia.

Ramjee was revered for her work on HIV prevention, which had a focus on the risk factors faced by South African women. Ramjee was also involved in attempts to find a cure for HIV.

She was the chief specialist and the director of the SA Research Council’s HIV prevention unit.

“In her honour, we should heed the call to flatten the curve by strengthening our responses to this global pandemic as well as continue the fight to achieve zero new HIV infections. We would like to convey our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Professor Ramjee as well as to the medical research community,” Mabuza said.

Dr Anthony Mbewu, former president of the MRC, said Ramjee would never be forgotten by those who benefited from her unstinting dedication to the cause.

“She has been taken away from her family and our country far too soon; though we rejoice that she was able to see her grandchild in London shortly before she died,” Mbewu said.

Normah Zondo, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s acting executive director for corporate relations, said Ramjee recently received the Outstanding Female Scientist Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships.

A teacher from uMlazi also died yesterday from coronavirus related complications. Her family have asked that she not be named as they are being victimised by their community.

The health department said the teacher, who had an underlying condition of hypertension chronic asthma and at the time of admission, had an acute asthmatic attack.

On Saturday, Andre Keijser, 73, died of the coronavirus after returning from the Kruger National Park.

Keijser had complained about a sore body, getting a cold and when he went to the doctor he was told he had respiratory distress, shortness of breath, cardiac failure, decreased saturation and his temperature was above 38 degrees.

  Professor Gita Ramjee

According to the Health Department, Keijser also had an underlying skin cancer condition known as melanoma.

By Zintle Mahlati, Thobeka Ngema and Phili Mjoli