In their words: Our heroes on the Covid-19 front line

Asanda Cebe
Image: Supplied

Today we pay tribute to all our health care workers on the front line as the world battles to come to grips with this horrid Covid-19 virus.

Asanda Ceba, Livingstone Hospital professional nurse in the casualty department.

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

It may sound like a cliché, but I have always had a heart for helping people.

What are your thoughts on Covid-19?

It’s a fierce virus, bound by no socioeconomic status. If we do not abide by the WHO recommendations and respect lockdown, we will head for doomsday. Please stay home, wash your hands, work with us to eradicate the virus.

Dr Roshen Maharaj
Image: Eugene Coetzee






Dr Roshen Maharaj, Livingstone Hospital, accident and emergency head

Why did you study medicine? Because I wanted to heal people and I wanted to be part of solving problems. This virus has taken a toll on everyone but I think the health workers especially.

How are people treating you as a front line worker? We appreciate the support of our families because I think sometimes people do not realise that doctors and nurses also go through a lot and we really need to acknowledge that, the hours they put in and the effort.


Dane Leo
Dane Leo Dane Leo
Image: Supplied

Dane Leo, pharmacist and co-owner of Dijon Pharmacy in Lorraine.

Why did you choose to become a pharmacist?

I chose pharmacy because it is a unique and changing field, always something new to learn.

What are your thoughts on Covid-19?

I think the government has acted quickly in enforcing the lockdown. I do feel that the numbers are slightly skewed, especially in the Eastern Cape, as not enough testing has been done. With the rollout of testing units I expect to see the number of positives rise quite sharply.

Ashwell Botha
Image: Supplied



Ashwell Botha, operational manager for the EC Emergency Medical Services.

Why did you choose the profession?

I have a passion for the outcome — which is to make people better.

Your thoughts on Covid-19?

This virus is serious and we must treat it as such. Even if it does not directly affect your community, do not underplay it. In our profession, there is a psychological impact as well where the guys are not sure they are safe. It is my job to ensure they are properly trained, equipped and protected.

Micheal Mahlangu, cleaner at Livingstone Hospital

What do you think of Covid-19?

People are feeling unsafe about me working in this environment. It is such a huge virus, it has been like a bomb and challenging for the human race

Tamsin Economou, a registered nurse at Livingstone Hospital’s ICU Unit

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I chose to become a nurse to be part of a profession that drives the prevention of illnesses through health education and so empowering individuals.

What has been the reaction you’ve received from family and your community?

The reaction I have received from my community is an immense amount of support and drive to do what is required despite the fact that everyone is scared. My family have had to adapt to changes to my routine when coming home and also limiting contact when necessary.

Nandipha Makalima
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Nandipha Makalima, standard ambulance assistant stationed at EMS

As someone on the front line, how is your family treating you?

My children understand my job but their only instruction is I must be safe.

What do you think about Covid-19?

In Veeplaas, which is where I stay, people are not listening to the regulations. We’re being extra cautious because Covid-19 symptoms are similar to TB or asthma.

Dr Nikita Human, Livingstone Hospital

Why become a doctor?

I studied medicine because I really wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I know it is very cliché but I wanted to help people.

How is Covid-19 affecting the country?

This virus is a stressful time for being a human being. It is causing panic and fear and you have to understand the panic because people just want their families to be safe. Is is stressful because we are exposed and we do not want to spread it to our families.

Chuma Adam,  professional nurse at Addo Clinic

Since you’re one of the people potentially exposed to the virus, what reaction have you been getting from your community?

My family are worried sick about me but they understand what my job entails. The difficult part is that because I am on the front line, there is the possibility of contracting the virus and bringing it to my family, who are sitting at home, heeding the regulations.


Carmen Smit
Image: Supplied


Carmen Smit, nurse with in the emergency unit at one of the private hospitals in Port Elizabeth.

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I wanted to help people. I believe nursing is a calling. I love people and I want to help them holistically in any way I can, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What are your thoughts on Covid-19?

When each person in the community plays their part of isolating to #flattenthecurve it ensures the health of our community and the health and welfare of us health-care professionals. Whether it is during a crisis such as this pandemic or everyday life, nurses are always here, working hard, taking care of the beautiful people of our country everyday

Nolubabalo Vaaltein
Image: Supplied

Nolubabalo Vaaltein, nurse at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital.

What reaction are you getting from family and community members as someone working on the front line?

My family and friends have been very supportive during this period and are equally worried that I could get infected and further infect because we are in constant contact with people suspected to have the virus. My friends are always checking up on me and urging me to stay safe.

What are your thoughts on Covid-19?

I think people must just stay at home and be safe, wash their hands and maintain good personal hygiene. If they do go out, must wear protective masks at all times.


Busisiwe Ncwayincwayi
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Busisiwe Ncwayincwayi, professional nurse, Livingstone Hospital

What are your concerns about Covid-19?

My main concerns about Covid-19 are our safety as workers. I am worried about contracting the disease and taking it home and infecting my family.

My family are supportive but other people hear about Covid-19 and they realise you work at a hospital then start to get scared and keep their distance because they do not know enough about the virus.

Dr Allyson Adams
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Dr Allyson Adams, Livingstone Hospital

What do you think about this pandemic?

Covid-19 is super difficult for South Africans, because it has had an impact socially and economically and has crippled many lives. It is not easy to adjust to the new rules but I think generally we have risen to the occasion as a country and we have started to see people social distancing.

I’m lucky my husband is also a doctor

Dave Gardner
Image: Supplied

Dave Gardner, owner of Gardmed Ambulance Service

Why did you choose the profession?

I wanted to build a company that was a necessity.

Your thoughts on Covid-19?

I think it’s still going to get a lot worse.

Dr Sumayya Hasan Miyan
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Dr Sumayya Hasan Miyan, Livingstone Hospital

What are your thoughts on Covid-19?

We deal with a lot of infectious diseases, like TB, and it has often been scary and it is scary even now but with the coronavirus crisis it has been like a mixture of hope and having a lot to adjust to but we hope the lockdown helps.


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