Lamenting fall of great hospital

It was indeed with extreme sadness that I saw the cartoon in Sowetan of February 27 about the horrendous death toll at Helene Franz Hospital in Limpopo.

The cottage hospital, which was founded 100 years ago by Helene Franz, a Lutheran missionary and nurse from East Prussia, was a memorable sanctuary for the people of the far north.

During the last memorial service held in 1957, a leper patient called Tshabangu gestured for a turn to speak.

He thanked his Creator for all His blessings, Moruti Jäckel for his kind words, his fellow inmates for all their friendship and loving support, the nursing staff and family at Bochum who cared for them over the years - especially Mosháte (Uncle Hans) and Fräulein Schulz who sacrificed their lives for their patients - true to the solemn covenant which was made by their forebears in Berlin: "In so far as you have done it to one of the least of these My Brethren, you have done it unto Me" and said it in Sesotho as well.

These immortal words of wisdom came from Tshabangu, the mutilated saint from the leper colony at Bochum - an intellectual giant who shared with me the fundamentals of fortitude, charity and mutual respect when I was a medical student.

RC Franz, Emeritus Professor of Surgery, Pretoria University