A spe­cial­ist who gave life

Obit­u­ary: Dr Her­man Ndit­sheni Net­shidzivhani: 1956 - 2016

CityPress - - News -

South Africa’s lead­ing fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist, Dr Her­man Net­shidzivhani, was with a group of eight bik­ers – one of whom was a doc­tor – when he was killed on the N1 out­side Polok­wane last Satur­day morn­ing.

The beloved gy­nae­col­o­gist, who es­tab­lished the Park Lane Fer­til­ity Cen­tre in 1996, was on a day trip to Lim­popo and lead­ing the pack of bik­ers when he was killed on im­pact by an al­legedly drunk driver, who per­formed a U-turn on the busy road. He was 59 years old.

Among those who came to pay their re­spects at Net­shidzivhani’s Jo­han­nes­burg home this week were a num­ber of chil­dren of friends and fam­ily who were de­liv­ered by him and Dr Brigit Both­ner, Net­shidzivhani’s wife and part­ner in his gy­nae­co­log­i­cal prac­tice.

Ev­ery night this week, the home was filled with mourn­ers. Among the reg­u­lar vis­i­tors was Dr Tshepo Mot­sepe and her hus­band, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who is Net­shidzivhani’s first cousin. Born in the vil­lage of Tshakhuma, out­side Tho­hoyan­dou, Net­shidzivhani was raised in Soweto, where he learnt to speak all of South Africa’s 11 of­fi­cial lan­guages.

He be­gan his med­i­cal train­ing at the then Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity of SA (now the Se­fako Mak­gatho Health Sciences Uni­ver­sity) in 1980, grad­u­at­ing in 1985 with an MBChB de­gree, and in 1993 as a spe­cial­ist gy­nae­col­o­gist. He stud­ied fer­til­ity treat­ment at the US’s pres­ti­gious Yale Uni­ver­sity and trained at Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal in Washington, DC.

In the early 1990s, Net­shidzivhani was the reg­is­trar of the gy­nae­col­ogy depart­ment at the then Ga-Rankuwa Hos­pi­tal (now Dr Ge­orge Mukhari Hos­pi­tal), and went on to work at the Chris Hani Barag­wanath Hos­pi­tal in Soweto, where he met Both­ner, who had come from her na­tive Ger­many to train, and who he later mar­ried. Theirs was an en­dur­ing love story.

In a state­ment read out at his fu­neral in Tshakhuma yes­ter­day, Both­ner said Net­shidzivhani was the “love of my life, my soul mate”.

“We shared the same in­ter­ests and thought the same thoughts, of­ten at the same time.”

The cou­ple’s teenaged daugh­ters, Nadine (16) and Ella Marie (15), re­counted how in­volved their fa­ther was in their lives, how he be­came more ex­cited than they were about their school projects, and how he al­ways kept his cool and never stopped smil­ing. They also re­called how he was a keen fan of For­mula 1 and recorded all the races, which he never per­mit­ted them to delete.

Net­shidzivhani kept in touch with his Venda roots, trav­el­ling there once a month to con­sult as a doc­tor. He also kept a fam­ily home in Tshakhuma.

His friends and pa­tients will re­mem­ber him as a highly skilled, em­pa­thetic and en­dur­ingly hum­ble doc­tor.

Net­shidzivhani adored his wife, for whom he threw an elab­o­rate sur­prise 50th birth­day party two years ago. She re­counted this week how he did not wish to cel­e­brate his 60th birth­day in June, telling his brother that he felt the age was “too old”, and that he was am­biva­lent about reach­ing that milestone.

Net­shidzivhani is sur­vived by his wife, two daugh­ters and a son from a prior re­la­tion­ship. His memo­rial ser­vice will be held at Sa­cred Heart Col­lege in Ob­ser­va­tory, Jo­han­nes­burg, at 10am to­mor­row.

– Staff re­porter

Dr Her­man Net­shidzivhani

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