Birthday conference call in hospital a special memory as family man becomes Covid-19 fatality

12 June 2020 - 10:16 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Dirkie Kotze died from Covid-19 on June 4, just two days after his birthday.
Dirkie Kotze died from Covid-19 on June 4, just two days after his birthday.
Image: Supplied

When Maryna Verster’s father went to the hospital for his routine prostate cancer treatment, his family did not anticipate he would become a statistic of Covid-19.

Last Thursday Dirkie Kotze, 79, from Bellville in Cape Town, died two days after his birthday after he had contracted Covid-19.

“We couldn’t see him as he was in isolation. At first he didn’t have any symptoms, but at the weekend he struggled to breathe and speak. When they moved him to ICU, we couldn’t speak to him. It was difficult.

“He couldn’t say much but at least he could listen. We wanted to sing for him on June 2 for his birthday. We called his ward and the nurse on duty put us on speaker on the phone.

"We conference-called all the grandchildren. It was a beautiful moment. I’m very thankful for that nurse because she allowed us to have our last memory. Although this seemed to be a small deed, it will be lasting memories for the family because two days later he passed away,” Verster said.

Kotze was cremated on Wednesday.

“His body was sealed three times. We weren’t allowed to view it or go anywhere close by. I have never done anything like this. We decided to postpone the funeral because we won’t be able to manage the limit of 50 people. His ashes have not been handed to us, but we did receive the death certificate,” she said.

Verster said her father was a soft-spoken man who “always assisted people and opened his home for family and friends. He would give rather than receive."

“He was in the navy for 33 years. He kept himself busy with his garden. He had bird ivory ornaments and collected antiques,” she said.

There are now 58,568 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in SA, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday night. This was an increase of 3,157 cases from the 55,421 announced on Wednesday night.

Mkhize also announced another milestone in the country's fight against Covid-19, with more than a million tests having been done.

Later on Thursday evening, the minister announced that an additional 74 deaths had been recorded in the past 24 hours. This means there are now 1,284 confirmed Covid-19 fatalities in SA.