Pioneering medical alumna passes away

15 Jul 2015 - 12:15

UCT Alumna, Dr Khairunisa Parker, passed away at the Rondebosch Medical Centre on Sunday 12 July, after taking ill last week.

Parker, 81, was one of Cape Town's first Muslim female doctors. She lived and schooled in Salt River and enrolled for the medical degree in 1953 - an unusual step for a young woman at the time - graduating from UCT in 1959.

Dr Khairunisa Parker at her 50 year medical reunion


Dr Khairunisa Parker (front row, third from left) at her 50 year medical reunion, in 2009


Dr Nasheba Jardine, mother of the well-known South African poet and academic, Gabeba Baderoen, enrolled at UCT in 1958, and remembers that by the time she arrived at UCT, Dr Parker was about to graduate. "I am not sure if she was the first Muslim woman to graduate as a doctor but she was the first one we knew of," said Jardine, who went on to describe Dr Parker's long years of service at the Langa day hospital, during which time she was eyewitness to many historic moments quietly tending to those who were affected and ill.

Dr Parker leaves behind her husband Abou Desai - retired Hewat Teacher's Training College lecturer, her daughter, Fatima and son, Rasheed, her grandson Shadley and two adopted grandsons, Banele and Odwa.