It’s a Thursday afternoon when emergency services start to roll patients into casualty at Madadeni Hospital. Vehicle accidents, stabbings, broken limbs, prisoners with cell phones inside them are all seen in the department on the frontline of emergency care. The regional public hospital located about 12 kilometres from Newcastle, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with over 800 beds is where Dr Sandile Kubheka is starting his ‘on-call’ shift, where he will work up to 24 hours straight. He graduated High School at 15 years old and at 23 years old (at the time of our meeting) he is one of South Africa’s youngest doctors and the country’s youngest graduate doctor, aged 20 when he attained his MBchB from the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Dr Sandile Kubheka was born and grew up in Madadeni Township. He was raised by his single mother, Khangezile. As the youngest of five siblings he and his brothers and sisters have always been supported by his mother, “she is a caring mother, she allowed us to do our own thing as well as be a support structure… (she would) be there when there are obstacles and most of all loves us all unconditionally”. Kubheka is working his final month of his two year community service at the hospital in the township where he grew up, and at the end of 2016 was still unsure as to where he would be placed in 2017, “I want to stay within the public health system, my interest lies in internal medicine, particularly diabetes, it’s had an impact on my family and community, so I really want to help people with internal problems”.