The staff of Tygerberg Hospital are mourning the loss of Professor Johan Dempers, the Head of Forensic Pathology at the hospital. Dempers died as a result of COVID-19-related illness on Tuesday morning, January 26.

He was initially treated at a Milnerton hospital before being transported to UCT Private, where he died.

“Colleagues, it is with tremendous sadness that I have to inform you that I have been told that Prof Johan Dempers, head of Forensic Pathology at Tygerberg and longstanding friend and colleague to many of us, has died from COVID-19,” fellow doctor Rinesh Chetty shared to the SA Doctors Unite Facebook page.

Dempers was well-known in courtrooms across the Western Cape, as he has testified in several murder and rape cases. He was also known to be outspoken on heavy caseloads at state mortuaries as he was concerned it would compromise the quality of work.

Condolences poured in on the group upon being informed of the loss.

“One of the best, funniest and most memorable lecturers Stellenbosch med students have been fortunate enough to encounter. A charismatic, witty teacher who made Forensic Sciences so much more accessible and enjoyable. He was also one of the most experienced and well-respected Forensic Pathologists, performing autopsies and testifying in court for many high profile cases in the pursuit of justice for his patients and South Africa’s innocent,” one doctor commented.

“A quick Google of his name will demonstrate a few of the thousands of cases he led, and just how passionate, brilliant and esteemed this colleague was. A monumental loss for South Africa. Another beautiful, gifted health care professional, gone too soon. Deepest sympathy to his family and young children.”

“The best professor I’ve ever had the chance of learning under. So inspiring and joyful! It was a pleasure to learn from him,” a former student of Dempers commented.

Picture: SA Doctors Unite/Facebook

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Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.