Lungile Pepeta 2022


Acclaimed paediatric cardiologist and medical pioneer, Lungile Pepeta, was born on 16 July 1974 in Bizana, Eastern Cape. He matriculated from Bizana Village High School in 1991 and, the following year, enrolled for the MBChB in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the then University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University).

He graduated in 1997 and completed his internship at Mthatha General Hospital in 1998. In 1999, he joined Frontier Hospital in Komani (formerly Queenstown) and Dordrecht Hospital to fulfil his community service commitments.

Continuing with his studies during his community service year, he obtained a Diploma in Child Health through the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. In January 2000, Lungile became a Medical Officer in Paediatrics at King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Six months later, in July 2000, he was appointed as Registrar in Paediatrics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He qualified as a paediatrician in 2003, after passing the Fellowship of Paediatricians of South Africa. Moving back to Frontier Hospital the following year, he was appointed as Head of Paediatrics.

From mid-2004 to the end of 2008, Lungile was a Specialist Paediatrician, full-time Lecturer and Fellow at the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg - through its affiliated academic institution, the University of the Witwatersrand. During this time, he completed his paediatric cardiology training

He obtained the Certificate in Cardiology (SA) through the College of Paediatricians of South Africa in 2008.

Returning to his home province in 2009, he spent a short time at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha before being appointed as Principal Specialist and later Head of Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex. This was where he established the City’s first paediatric cardiology unit - at the Dora Nginza Provincial Hospital. He served at this Complex until the end of 2015, while also lecturing in Paediatric Cardiology at the Complex and at Walter Sisulu University. During his time here, he introduced non-invasive procedures to cure heart disorders and defects, such as congenital heart disorder faced by children in the Eastern Cape, and mentored and trained many doctors, particularly in the field of paediatrics.

In 2012 he was awarded a Master of Medicine in Paediatrics from the University of the Witwatersrand and two years later, admitted as a Fellow of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, USA (FSCAI).

In January 2016, Lungile was appointed as Associate Professor of Paediatrics at Walter Sisulu University and at the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex. During 2016, he served as the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Dora Nginza Provincial Hospital and Acting Clinical Governance Manager for the same hospital until the end of 2017.

On 1 January 2017, Dr Lungile Pepeta was appointed as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Nelson Mandela University. Later that year, he was elected as a member of the Council of Medical Schemes (CMS). He served the Nelson Mandela University community with excellence, demonstrating exceptional leadership through the establishment of the 10th Medical School in South Africa and championing the accreditation of the undergraduate medical programme.

As an active scholar, his contribution in the field of research in paediatric cardiology extends to over 20 research related outputs (inclusive of 11 research articles).

Included in his impressive list of memberships is President of the Paediatric Cardiac Society of South Africa, Vice-President of the South African Heart Association and Executive Member of the South African Paediatric Association.

In 2018, he registered for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Paediatrics at Stellenbosch University.

As a member of the Board for the Council of Medical Schemes, he was elected as its chairperson in June 2020, replacing the previous Chair, who succumbed to COVID-19 in May. He was also elected to a 15-member panel of experts, advising the provincial government's COVID-19 taskforce. Later that month, Lungile was hospitalised after contracting the coronavirus and, on 07 August 2020, passed away from complications of the virus at the age of 46.

Professor Lungile Pepeta embodied the Mandela University values, particularly being in the service of society, through public health accountability, advocating for the eradication of the inequities in healthcare provision, especially in remote and under-resourced communities of the Eastern Cape, in particular, and South Africa, as a whole.

For his contributions as a paediatric cardiologist, medical researcher, university professor and activist, and for being a pioneer of the medical industry in South Africa, particularly in child health care, it is an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Doctor of Health Sciences (honoris causa) on Lungile Pepeta.