Tribute paid to Charlotte Maxeke as dept unveils plaque

Monday, March 23, 2009

Johannesburg - Gauteng Health MEC Brian Hlongwa has paid tribute to the late Dr Charlotte Maxeke at the unveiling of a plague formally renaming the Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Mr Hlongwa said the renaming of the Johannesburg Academic Hospital after Dr Maxeke was fitting as the hospital continued to strive for excellence.

"She epitomised excellence, just as this hospital epitomizes excellence," Mr Hlongwa said.

Dr Maxeke made a mark among black South Africans, when she became the first black woman in the Southern Hemisphere to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree.

She was also a pioneer in the struggle for women's rights, never hesitating to confront government. She lead a delegation to the then Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, General Louis Botha, to protest against the pass system.

"Her selflessness influenced many in our country and through out the world, the fact that many come from all over the world to healed at this hospital also testifies to an undeniable and immutable fact that Charlotte Maxeke remains a source of inspiration to the down trodden through out the world," he said.

Mr Hlongwa acknowledged the hospital's trauma unit, which matches international advanced life support standard recommendations for a level 1 trauma unit and well as the ophthalmology unit which has successfully reduced cataract backlogs.

"On average, 98 patients are operated on per week, an average of 7 500 babies are born per year at this hospital and almost every year, doctors from this hospital are nominated for national awards," Mr Hlongwa said.

Dr Maxeke's granddaughter Olga Sema, was present at the event and thanked the department for naming the hospital after her grandmother.

'We are really honoured and thank the government and the Health Department for acknowledging the services rendered by our grand mother, Charlotte Maxeke," Ms Sema said.

In September last year, the department announced that three Gauteng hospitals would be renamed after South African struggle heroes who have played a significant role in the transformation of the country.

Apart from the Dr Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, the Pretoria Academic was changed to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital and Coronation Hospital was renamed the Rahina Moosa Mother and Child Hospital.

Steve Biko was a medical student and intellectual who had realised the negative psychological effect that the system of apartheid had on black people and sought to mobilise different political traditions into a movement of solidarity to break the chains of oppression.

Rahima Moosa became active at an early age in the trade union movement organising her fellow workers in the Food and Canning Union. Together with activists such as Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Sophia Williams, Ms Moosa led the August 1956 Women's March to the Union Buildings.