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‘I am living the life of my dreams’, Dr Sindi van Zyl told friend

Doctor Sindi Van Zyl. (Photo: Facebook/Dr Sindi van Zyl)

Doctor Sindi Van Zyl. (Photo: Facebook/Dr Sindi van Zyl)

  • A friend says Dr Sindi van Zyl said she was living the life of her dreams. 
  • Family and friends paid tribute to the HIV clinician at a memorial service. 
  • Van Zyl died of Covid-19 complications.

A memorial service for the late Dr Sindi van Zyl heard how she was living the life of her dreams just before she died. 

Kaya FM, where Van Zyl used to have a show, held a memorial service for the HIV specialist on Saturday evening. She died of Covid-19-related complications on 10 April and was buried on Thursday. 

Dr Palesa Pule, a friend from medical school,  said Van Zyl, 45, broke into tears last year when she spoke about living her dreams. 

“She told me, ‘I am living the life of my dreams, and I know it’s because of my mom. I did everything I wanted to do’. The only thing she hasn’t done was be a turntable DJ. We must take from Sindi and live the lives of our dreams. In her 45 years of life, she achieved everything she wanted.”  

Van Zyl’s mother, Rita Mahamba-Sithole, died a few years ago.  

Pule said Van Zyl had taken on the role of “mother hen”.  “Sindi used to cook for all of us,” Pule said.

TRIBUTE | Sindi van Zyl, the doctor who never stopped caring

The HIV clinician, she added, flourished when she started working at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. 

“When she worked in the paediatrics department, she would take babies and their mothers home when they were discharged. When a baby died, she would attend the funeral. She would buy a casket. This is the Sindi Soweto knew,” Pule said.  

They played her favourite songs, video messages, and montages from her friends and family throughout the service. 

Pule thanked Van Zyl’s husband, Marinus, for sharing his wife. “Thank you for loving our friend. Thank you for sharing Sindi with us,” she said. 

Another friend, Palesa Mnguni, said she met the doctor in 2011 when she was pregnant and had just been diagnosed with HIV.

“She discovered I was misdiagnosed. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have known. I am finding it hard to express what she means to me. I will never forget how you looked at me when you wanted to say, ‘don’t do it’. Your love was very rare.” 

Mnguni and several other people spoke of Van Zyl’s love of parties, champagne and perfume. 

Van Zyl’s sister, Sane Mthethwa, said: “The reason she was full of love was because she loved herself. She was very self-aware and knew her purpose from an early age, and as a result, she wanted everyone to know their purpose.” 

Mthethwa said Van Zyl had taught her to be a good healthcare worker. “She taught me that I should have empathy. That I must know my patients.” 

Her children, Nandi and Manie, whom she called the Caramellos, thanked South Africans for supporting their family.

Dr Maggie Mojapelo from the Healthcare Heroes Memorial said more 650 healthcare workers in South Africa have died because of Covid-19. “Nowhere in our history have we lost so many people who save lives. It is a national emergency.” 

She led a minute of silence to honour Van Zyl and other healthcare workers who died. 

“Dr Sindi’s legacy is not going to end today.” 

Mojapelo handed over a candle of hope and light and a certificate of honour. The Hippocatric oath was also read. 

Mojapelo said:

What a life. A life well-lived.

At the end of the service, guests were served cake and champagne. 

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