Vhutshilo Netshituni

Let’s meet Vhutshilo Netshituni, South Africa’s first black Paediatric Oncologist.

Vhutshilo Netshituni is currently a staff of Pietersburg Hospital in Polokwane. She works at the paediatric oncology unit which specializes in childhood cancer treatment. Such a feat has never been achieved by any black South African.

Other facts there are to know about the trendsetter are as follows:

1. Growing Up

Vhutshilo Netshituni was born in Tshilafene village outside Thohoyandou. Having lost her father at a tender age, her mother Sophy took up the responsibility of raising her and 3 other siblings. Growing up for Vhutshilo had its fair share of a rough patch.

As turbulent as their financial status was at the time, Vhutshilo was certain she wanted to be a doctor. In the course of visiting her cousin who was a medical student, she likewise discovered her affinity to the profession. She never forgets her mother’s tireless efforts in making her dream come true.

“Even though life was different, my mom tried her best. In first year, my mom could only afford to give me registration money and that, for me, was enough. I didn’t know how I was going to survive when I got there. All I wanted was to study medicine”.

2. Found Her Vocation Within A Vocation

Everybody knew she wanted to be a medical doctor but her experiences with children while working as a medical student helped her narrow down the area of her specialization. Thus she made a decision to become a paediatrician. Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni worked briefly at the Polokwane oncology unit before she advanced her qualification as a paediatric oncologist at Stellenbosch University.

According to her, working at the childhood cancer treatment department has influenced her in a very good way.

“What struck me was seeing those kids smiling regardless of what they were going through. That made me brave. It kept me going,” she says.

3. Passionate About Saving Children With Cancer

The Limpopo-based doctor has been described to be utterly passionate at her job. A Facebook user and follower of Sowetan Live, Portia Masango said this:

“She really is good with children, my 5-year-old boy was admitted to polokwane peadiatric oncology ward after being diagnosed with cancer 2 months ago, she did everything she could to help him. Big up”. 

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4. An Inspiration For Women And Black South African Community

For being the first black paediatric oncologist in SA, Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni has become a source of inspiration to women and indeed the black South African community. A few weeks ago, Julius Malema attained another milestone in his educational pursuits; stressing the point that only through education will the black community in SA achieve their economic emancipation. Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni’s break in SA’s medical history has likewise strengthened that point. Attaining the feat not just as a black SA native but as a woman speaks volume for the aspect of women education and empowerment.

According to the South African government in an employment plan presented to a recent G20 summit in Australia, young black women make up 37.5% of unemployed South Africans aged between 15 and 34. During the summit in Brisbane, South Africa listed the low employment rate of women in the country as one of its key challenges.

Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni has become a model and a symbol of hope for black SA women in that regard.

Other South African women are coming into the Pediatric field. Recently, 35-year old Ngoakoana Mahlachana has joined the battle against childhood cancer after becoming the country’s third black person to qualify as a paediatric oncologist.

In March 2017, it was reported that the first medical school since the advent of democracy will be built in Limpopo.

The province’s health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba during her budget speech, said the departments were recruiting specialist doctors to start once the hospital opens. According to her, these doctors include Dr Mangena, the first neurologist in the province, Dr Ntangadzeni Muambadzi, Limpopo’s youngest nuclear medical specialist and Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni, the first black paediatric oncologist in the Republic of South Africa.

This could be another stepping stone for Netshituni to actualize her dream of running awareness campaigns. It can be recalled she said a “big and beautiful oncology building would be a bonus for me.”

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