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UWC bids farewell to health reformer Ratie Mpofu

UWC bids farewell to health reformer Ratie Mpofu

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) mourns the loss of one of its leading lights, Emeritus Professor Ratie Mpofu, who passed away on Saturday 19 October 2013 at the age of 68, after a long illness.

Prof Mpofu recently retired as the Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, and was responsible for many reforms at the University in the field of rehabilitation, community-based education, interprofessional educationand physiotherapy, as well as in the wider world. Throughout her life, Mpofu overcame difficult situations to lend her leadership skills, understanding and passion to the development of health and health education in Zimbabwe and South Africa alike.

Born in Zimbabwe, Mpofu married shortly after completing school, but her young husband was arrested by Ian Smith's government only one month later, and Mpofu had to go into exile in England. The couple, with a child on the way, endured a seven year separation. Mpofu used her time away to obtain her diploma in physiotherapy, followed by her teacher's diploma, and a BA in Social Science – all while working as a practicing physiotherapist.

When Zimbabwe attained independence, Mpofu returned to the land of her birth to work in the new government's Ministry of Health as principal tutor for rehabilitation. She decided to serve her country by joining the University of Zimbabwe to teach her fellow Zimbabweans physiotherapy. This decision necessitated her earning yet another degree in the UK – a Master’s in Physiotherapy from the University of Southampton. She returned to spend several successful years educating a new generation of physiotherapists in her native land.

In 1993, Mpofu moved to another recently-liberated country, joining UWC as a lecturer in physiotherapy in the Community and Health Sciences Faculty. She found a department that was struggling to find its feet and establish its standards, and she did all she could to help students and fellow staff members alike, while completing her own PhD. Appointed chairperson of the Physiotherapy Department, she implemented a straightforward, practical and goal-oriented approach to improving the department that achieved results.

It was no surprise when she took up the position of Dean of CHS in 2001, taking the opportunity to develop, innovate and empower - promoting a curriculum that ensured students would work in local communities and get to know the needs there as part of their degrees.

She served the University in several capacities, and despite a desire to retire and rest, returned time and again to lend a helping hand whenever her experience and expertise were requested.

Her steady resolve, passion and skills will certainly be missed at UWC, and the University's condolences go out to her family. .

A funeral will be held on 25 October 2013 at the Claremont Baptist Church, at the corner of St Michaels and Cooks Road (in Claremont). The viewing takes place from 9am, and the church service will be held from 10am.