Dear colleagues and students
It is with deep sadness that we write to share with you the news of the death of our colleague Ms Viwe Mgudlwa (44) on Thursday, 24 December 2020. Ms Mgudlwa was in Engcobo, Eastern Cape, at the time of her sudden death. She has worked for the University of Cape Town (UCT) since 1 February 2017.
Ms Mgudlwa was a community educator and recruiter at the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa), conducting vaccine clinical trials at the Khayelitsha Site B clinical research facility.
Highly passionate about the work she did, Ms Mgudlwa was a much-loved and deeply valued colleague. She joined the research team at the start of the Uhambo HVTN702 HIV vaccine trial and played a key role in recruiting 570 volunteers from the community for potential participation in the trial.
She engaged with community organisations and community members to raise awareness about HIV vaccine research and the trial itself, and to address questions and concerns around the trial. Ms Mgudlwa helped establish a Community Advisory Group in Khayelitsha for the trial and was involved in monthly meetings with this group. Most recently, she played a key role in a remarkable community team effort to recruit 150 volunteers for the ENSEMBLE COVID-19 vaccine trial in just over three weeks.
Ms Mgudlwa always looked out for and advocated for the participants in these trials. She took pride in ensuring they were served a warm cup of coffee or tea on cold winter mornings, or an ice-cold juice or water on summer afternoons.
She will be remembered as a powerful woman full of humanity, who communicated her messages with strength and compassion, always lifting the spirits of those around her with her smile and laughter and dedicated to the work she did to address the health problems facing her community.
Ms Mgudlwa is survived by her husband Mongezi Nokweni and two children. Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised.
The university has reached out to offer support to the Mgudlwa family and our sincere condolences go out to them and all who knew and loved her during this time of bereavement.
The UCT Executive
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