TUT mourns passing of honorary doctor, Dr Sponono Baloyi

17 May 2021

The Tshwane University of Technology is deeply saddened by the death of one of the heroic, revered and celebrated public health activists in nursing and public health, Dr Sponono Francinah Baloyi, who passed away on 12 May at age 81. 

Dr Sponono Baloyi.

In October 2019, the university honoured Dr Baloyi for her selflessness, commitment and exceptional work on health issues, by conferring her an honorary doctorate in nursing (honoris causa) in the Faculty of Sciences. 

Dr Baloyi was a former Minister of Health and Welfare in the KaNgwane Government. Between 1994 and 2004, she was a Member of the South African Parliament, during which time she played a vital role in introducing legislation to reduce the prevalence of Tuberculosis as well as preventable childhood disease, and to bring quality public health facilities to rural communities in the then Eastern Transvaal. She was a delegate at CODESA and after the 1994 Democratic Elections, she was elected as a Member of the South African Parliament. 

She was also among 490 members of the National Assembly, where she served for ten years. During this time, she played a vital role in introducing legislation and changing policies to reduce the prevalence of Tuberculosis as well as preventable childhood diseases and to bring quality public health facilities to rural communities.

Her career started in 1965, at the Rob Ferreira Hospital, Mbombela, after completing her general nursing and midwifery training. Her love for people and her passion for improving public health, drove her to enrol for training as a Public Health Nurse in 1971. Owing to her training, experience and commitment to the profession, she was offered the position of managing and supervising clinics as a Community Health Nurse at the Themba Hospital in White River in 1974. This was an extremely important appointment, since all the clinics in the then Eastern Transvaal fell under what was then known as the Themba Health Ward, with its head office under the Provincial Authority in Polokwane. 

Adding to her many accolades, in 1984 Dr Baloyi became one of eight South Africans, selected from 2 000 applicants, to attend the USAID Leadership Programme in America. During this time, she visited rural and urban areas, met different Health Administrators and professionals and had an opportunity to share her South African experiences. 

On her return, she continued her work with the Health Professionals, presenting health talks on personal hygiene and cleanliness, introducing bi-monthly Study Group Meetings for nurses who never had in-service training, as well as orientation and in-service training sessions for nurses at the hospital.

Other changes she brought about, amongst many, included an annual picnic for the nurses; introducing smart uniforms and encouraging them to be presentable and further their studies as part of their Professional Development; negotiating the equalisation of the salaries of clinic nurses who were not paid the same as hospital nurses; negotiating rank promotions, which affected their pensions and retirement benefits. In 1992 Ms Baloyi was offered a British scholarship to enrol for a Masters’ Degree in Primary Heath Education in the United Kingdom. The same year, while studying at Bristol University, she was appointed Minister of Health in South Africa, at the age of 52.

“Dr Baloyi was an embodiment of humility and gentleness. She was integrity and kindness personified. She was an epitome of noble commitment and dedication to health matters, social justice, human rights and human dignity. She was an exemplary woman. Our nation and humankind owe Dr Baloyi an unpayable debt of gratitude,” said Tshwane University of Technology’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Lourens van Staden.

Tshwane University of Technology would like offer heartfelt condolences to the Baloyi family, friends and colleagues. She was a self-sacrificing struggle veteran who dedicated her life to fighting for the freedom, health issues and rights of the people of South Africa. May her soul rest in peace. Etlela hiku rhula. Robala ka Kgotso.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711  Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za