Patrick Lomalisa was an exceptional man. There is a phrase that is always repeated when his friends describe him, ‘he was a gentleman.’ Patrick passed away on Saturday 24th July 2020 after a short illness from the complications of Covid 19.
Patrick was an extremely warm person. He was extremely polite but had very firm opinions. When you introduced a topic to him and begged his opinion he would be understanding of the difficulty that others in an administration or an organization or a situation experienced, this he would describe, he would then hesitate and he would then state that something was to be applauded or was unacceptable.
In Obstetrics and Gynaecology Patrick had that immensely comforting quality – he was a very safe pair of hands. In training, it was the impression of many that there were many far senior to him who appreciated his surgical skill. His ability was not at all limited to the operating theatre. His judgement of medical problems was appropriate and thorough. When you worked with Patrick you could relax knowing that he was solving problems and creating calm wherever he went and that if you were uncertain or in difficulty you could ask.
Patrick was from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He graduated from the University of Kinshasa in 1984 and came to South Africa in 1991. He had lived in South Africa for almost 30 years. His children were born and raised here.
Patrick worked first in Limpopo and then came to join the Wits circuit and completed his registrar time and gained his FCOG in 2000. He had been working for many years in Mahikeng.
On 31st December 1998 I was on call with Patrick. I was dripped on call following an attack of gastroenteritis. At midnight they sent me home from Baragwanath Hospital. Patrick covered my duties. Every other time we met he would remind me and tell me with that broad smile that I still owed him. And we would laugh.
At a SASOG dinner many years ago we sat together. I mentioned what I knew of the DRC. I sat in silence as he explained, very slowly, that his father had been a senior military official in Mobutu’s government. It was a world he had left far behind.
The last time I met Patrick was at the SASOG Conference in the Champagne resort in 2020. He hugged me and would not let go. Patrick was tall. My head came up to his chest. When I looked up he was already looking away.
Patrick leaves his lovely wife and three grown up children of 17, 19, and 21 who will miss him greatly. As will those that knew him. Greatly.
Je suis desolé mon ami. Vous devez m’attender. Nous allons marcher toujours au ciel. Je viens.
Dr William Edridge, Baragwanath Hospital, University of Witwatersrand