Mavis Mahlakoane was undoubtedly one of the main highlights of Jackson Mthembu’s televised funeral, recounting his last days in hospital, and also echoing what many have said about him – that he was a humble and caring individual.
Mthembu died of COVID-19-related complications on Thursday, 21 January 2021 – a little more than a week after testing positive for the respiratory disease. He has been hailed as an anti-corruption champion who represented the ANC’s true values.
Mahlakoane, a nurse at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, spoke at Mthembu’s funeral on Sunday, 24 January 2021. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Emalahleni, formerly known as Witbank, in Mpumalanga.
“(Mr Mthembu) was not doing good at all…Time was not on our side. We tried. All the doctors came. The ED department came, we resuscitated him, but he just went down and down and down up until his last breath. That was 13:20, he threw in the towel,” she said.
“We’ve lost as a nation, SisThembi (Mthembu’s widow), the family and the relatives, they’ve lost”
Mahlakoane also described Jackson Mthembu as a humble soul who never demanded special treatment because of his standing and influence. She said Mthembu also insisted on not being called ‘minister’.
“What a calm soul. We didn’t nurse a ‘do you know who I am person’. He was humble,” she said.
Jackson Mthembu: ‘Cyril will be so disappointed’
As one of the few people who had access to the minister during his stay in hospital, Mahlakoane said Mthembu thought of President Ramaphosa as a true friend and wanted to give him a ring.
“Around 5pm, when I was preparing his medication, he asked for his phone. He said, ‘I want to call my true friend.’ He said ‘Cyril is the man who knows me better than anyone’,” Mahlakoane said.
According to Mahlakoane, Mthembu also kept on saying that Cyril would be disappointed, but had no idea what he meant by those utterances.
“He said, ‘Cyril will be so disappointed. I still don’t understand what he was talking about. Within a wink of an eye, his sats (oxygen saturation) dropped. I asked him to put on his oxygen. The doctor came and said he would put him on an NIV machine,” she said.