Tribute to Dr Mohammed Ismail Motala: ‘humble and dedicated ophthalmologist who never turned away anyone’

The recent untimely passing of Dr Mohammed Ismail Motala, a Specialist Ophthalmologist, has shocked his family and members of the medical fraternity. Dr Motala (46) passed away on 9th of September of a heart attack.

Dr Motala was an energetic, enthusiastic, gentle and humble individual who had a passion for the improvement of Ophthalmic Care in South Africa. He was a loving son, a caring husband, a protective brother and a devoted father.

Dr M I Motala was the eldest son of Dr I A Motala, a General Practitioner from Tongaat. Dr Motala completed his undergraduate training at the Medical University of South Africa and performed his internship at R K Khan Hospital and his community service at King Edward Hospital Durban. He then spent a year gaining experience in Ophthalmology and General Surgery in New Zealand.

He returned to South Africa to commence his specialist training at the University of Cape Town (Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross Children’s Hospital). He obtained a Fellowship of the College of Ophthalmologists of South Africa and a Master of Medicine (MMED) (UCT) degree and was appointed as a Consultant Ophthalmologist at the University of Pretoria (Steve Biko Academic Hospital) where he gained further experience in refractive surgery.

His desire for personal and academic improvement led him to pursue a year-long Subspecialist fellowship in Glaucoma Surgery at the University of Nottingham. Following these formative years, he devoted himself to the service of patients in his private practice which served patients from across Kwazulu-Natal and from elsewhere in South Africa.

He was extensively involved in charitable work and assisted many deserving patients throughout his career. He never turned away anyone who could not afford his services and provided the highest levels of care to all. He was also exceptionally generous in sharing his skills and knowledge with colleagues. He is survived by his loving parents, siblings, his wife and his children, Fathima and Bibi Aisha.


The following were messages received by patients, colleagues and friends:

“We have lost another young healthcare practitioner. Dr Motala was more than just a colleague. He was a friend but also a very compassionate humanitarian at heart. A humble, gentle, down-to-earth doctor who was never shy to assist those who could not afford his services. Always willing to waive fees and do whatever he could to assist. Be it just a consult to a procedure. All he would ask “Deserving enough? Done!” Our patients were never turned away due to lack of funds. Dr Motala will be missed dearly.”

“Ophthalmologist, Dr M I Motala delivered many excellent evening and weekend lectures over the decades. The Saturday afternoon seminars he addressed attracted a large turnout of medical practitioners. As always, his slides on ocular pathology were the best. He was extremely generous with his time, whether it was weekends, holidays etc. His expertise and ability were outstanding. Dr Motala was held in very high esteem. His insight was greatly respected. He leaves a giant vacuum at Shifa hospital. He helped many of my patients. We’re all going to miss him. May his soul be in peace – Dr Deena Padayachee”

“Absolutely a truly remarkable man!”

May God Grant him the highest stages of paradise and may He give his family sublimepatience.

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