Paragon of vascular surgery in SA leaves indelible mark on the world of healthcare

‘A good seed has fallen to the ground…’

Friday, September 10 2021

When the much loved, pioneering vascular surgeon, Professor Cobus van Marle, left Netcare Unitas Hospital for the last time following his passing on Saturday, 4 September 2021, his life and work was celebrated by his colleagues with a spontaneous guard of honour and a chorus of voices.

As the sounds of Iwile Lembewu (A good seed has fallen to the ground), filled the corridors of the hospital, colleagues stood in admiration of the massive contribution made by an extraordinary man who, over a period of close on three decades, had left an indelible mark not only on the world of healthcare, but on the lives of family, friends and a myriad of others.

In his lifetime Professor Van Marle reached many healthcare milestones, thereby improving the lives of countless individuals. But, for his heartbroken family and colleagues, this charismatic giant of a man was so much more. 

 Pic: Professor Cobus van Marle

His son, Paul, said that the hearts of Professor Van Marle’s family members were torn apart by grief. “Our Dad loved his family above all else – he lived for us. Yes, he was an incredible doctor, but he was a man with gravitas. He was so much more than just a phenomenal healthcare professional.”

The staff in his practice adored him and were like family to him. In paying tribute to Professor Van Marle, they said: “We worked together, laughed together, we joked together. We were sad together and we cried together, our doctor was so much more than our employer – he was a good friend and a good man. Our hearts are broken, he leaves a huge void. We will never forget him.” 

Prof Van Marle first made South African medical history in 1998 when he successfully completed the first minimally invasive endovascular aneurysm repair in the country. The breakthrough procedure, which is safer than traditional open surgery, was first performed by an Argentinian vascular surgeon in the early 1990s. 

“We at the Netcare Group mourn the loss of a healthcare professional and a man of great stature. Professor Van Marle was highly respected and much loved by his colleagues, patients as well as by the staff and management of Netcare Unitas Hospital where he made a tremendous contribution,” commented Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.

“We are grateful to have known Professor Van Marle, and his loss is very deeply felt by his many friends, colleagues and the patients he cared for during his sterling medical career, which included more than 27 years practising at Netcare Unitas Hospital.”

Du Plessis added that, to the best of his knowledge, no other surgical team in South Africa had completed so many endovascular aneurysm repairs. “Professor Van Marle and his team have left an indelible mark on South African medical history.


“Aorta aneurysm is a potentially dangerous medical condition that can incapacitate the sufferer and sometimes result in sudden death. Through his minimally invasive endovascular aneurysm repair procedures, Prof Van Marle and his team have given hundreds of people back their lives.”

Eugene Ferreira general manager of Netcare Unitas Hospital expressed his shock and sadness at the loss of a healthcare professional who was not only a valued colleague and friend to many at Netcare Unitas Hospital, but also an outstanding human being and a revered healthcare professional who was known and loved, the world over.  

“The death of Professor Cobus comes as a tremendous shock. We are deeply saddened by the loss of a dear friend, colleague and special human being who has been an integral part of the Netcare Unitas family for many, many years.

“His warmth and genuine caring will be sorely missed and very fondly remembered by not only his colleagues and patients but by everyone who was fortunate enough to work with him through the years,” he added.

Professor Van Marle’s special healthcare interests included endovascular management of aortic aneurysms, arterial and venous disease, HIV associated Vasculopathy and carotid artery disease. At a personal level, he lived for his family and adored his grandchildren and was the happiest when he was with his family, spending time on his farm and hunting with his friends.

“Professor Van Marle has enriched the lives of many people. His legacy will live on, not only in the tremendous contribution he made to South African medicine, but in the special way that he touched the lives of others.

“Our hearts go out to his wife, Haya, his mother, Ouma Sheila, his children Jaco, Nine, Anneke and Paul and to his sisters Esté and Karin. He will be missed by his seven grandchildren, many friends and colleagues. Along with his family we are sad that his future eighth grandchild will never have the privilege of knowing him,” concluded Du Plessis.

Professor Van Marle’s memorial service will be held at 11h00 on Saturday, 11 September 2021. Herewith the link


Notes to editor

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For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:            MNA on behalf of Netcare 
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clemmy Forsthofer
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]