Surgeon’s sudden death

Oliver Raynham

A freak boating accident in Hermanus on Thursday December 29 resulted in the untimely death of Rondebosch doctor Oliver Raynham, 47, a revered ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist and surgeon at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Pinelands.

His wife of 15 years Maria Raynham, 42, told the Tatler on Tuesday January 3, that his family and friends were in “total shock” and were struggling to come to terms with the news of her husband’s death.

Ms Raynham said her husband had been sailing a Hobie Cat, a small sailing catamaran along the Klein River, from Stanford to Hermanus, along with three young campers, when the boat’s mast hit two power lines.

“The mast snapped the two lines resulting in two power surges through his body. He died after being electrocuted,” she said.

Ms Raynham said her husband had been in the seaside town of Hermanus working as a voluntary doctor for the annual pathfinders’ camp along the Hermanus lagoon at the time of the tragedy. It was the fifth time he had volunteered at the event.

Tears flowed as Ms Raynham described her husband as a “loyal, courageous and generous man”.

“He was also a committed and loving husband and father. He loved and was well-loved by all who knew him. His parents are reeling at the news of his death.

“He was such a meticulous and switched-on man and we are grappling with how this could have happened.”

Regan Beukes, marketing and communications co-ordinator at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital, where Dr Raynham had been in private practice for the past six years, said they had heard of Dr Raynham’s passing from one of his colleagues – a day after the tragic accident.

Mr Beukes said Dr Raynham “had a reputation for being kind, gentle and always friendly”.

“One of his best characteristics was that he was a true gentleman and always polite to staff and colleagues. Like all good doctors, he wanted only the best outcome for his patients and he strove hard to achieve this.

“He was well-loved by staff and patients alike and his absence can already be felt at the hospital,” he said.

“We are all saddened by his death and our sincerest condolences go out to his wife Maria and their children, as well as his extended family,” he said.

Dr Raynham studied medicine at Stellenbosch University and worked at both Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Vincent Pallotti.

He was also a member of the South African Society of Otorhinolaryngologists and held a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree from Stellenbosch and a Membership of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (MRCS), among others.

Provincial police spokesman, Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed the incident which had been reported at Standford police station. “The accident took place at 6.55pm. An inquest docket has been opened,” he explained.

Dr Raynham is survived by his wife Maria and their four children Joshua, 17, Thomas, 13, Peter, 9 and Sophie, 7. He will be laid to rest today, Thursday January 5, at the Jubilee Community Church, at 21 Nelson Road, Observatory.