President Cyril Ramaphosa and police and transport ministers Bheki Cele and Fikile Mbalula were the three politicians the late minister Jackson Mthembu talked about in some of his last moments before dying from complications related to Covid-19 last Thursday.
This is according to Mavis Mahlokoane, a nurse who attended to Mthembu at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. She shared with the nation the minister’s last moments and has been praised on social media for “giving the country closure”.
Mthembu was calm and polite, insisting that the nurse did not call him “minister”.
Reflecting on their first encounter, Mahlokoane said: “Most of the nurses were scared to enter his room so they said to me, ‘Sister Mavis, can you please go and nurse in room 3. We have a VIP patient’.
“I introduced myself. What a calm soul. Mr Mthembu was very calm. I would like to say to his family and the presidency, we didn’t nurse a ‘Do you know who I am?’ person. He had ubuntu,” she said.
Mthembu called Mahlokoane to show her a video of Cele dancing and said he would challenge him to a dance-off when he discharged from the hospital.
“He called me, showed me his phone and said, ‘I want to show you something’. He showed me a video of Cele dancing and said, ‘I will show this one how to dance when I come out. This is not how it’s done,’” she said.
The nurse also shared that a fridge was taken to the minister’s room
“He said: ‘You also brought me a fridge. Can you please open it.’ I opened it and he laughed and said ‘Sister Mavis, aniwazi umsebenzi we fridge [this is not what a fridge is for].’ I asked, ‘What it is used for?’ and he said, ‘Go and ask Mbalula – he will tell you.’”
Asked on social media, Mbalula replied that the fridge was “for juice”.
Mthembu and Ramaphosa were close friends, the minister told Mahlokoane.
Mthembu asked the nurse for his cellphone while she prepared his medicine.
“He said ‘I want to call my true friend’. He said: ‘There is one man who understands me better and I’m so worried because he is going to be so disappointed. Cyril is the man who understands me better than anyone. That’s the man who knows me.’”
The minister thanked the nurse for taking care of him and before she left at the end of her shift, he asked her to pray with him.
Ramaphosa has paid homage to Mthembu, whom he called “a dear friend”. He said the news of his death was met with shock and sorrow from ANC officials.
“As for me, I have lost a dear friend and it is a loss that I feel most keenly. For those who knew him and relied on him, for those who were led by him, learnt from him, for those who loved him, it is unbearable that we will never see Jackson Mthembu again.
I was sorrowful and heartbroken when I received the news of Jackson Mthembu’s passing from the minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize and the doctors in charge of treating him on Thursday. And with a heavy heart, I immediately called the officials of the ANC.”
Mthembu confirmed earlier this month that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was buried on Sunday in his hometown in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga.