Family devastated after gunmen kill much-loved Gauteng doctor

A well-known Dobsonville doctor, who was fatally shot in a robbery at his practice in Soweto last weekend, had continued to serve his community despite being a victim of a previous armed robbery, and having his former practice looted and razed to the ground during the 2021 riots.

TimesLIVE reports that Dr Michael Isabelle – who had been practising as a GP in the suburb for 25 years, and was much loved by residents – was wounded on Saturday afternoon when three men entered the surgery pleading for medical assistance for their friend.

“Once the receptionist let them inside the consultating room, they shot the doctor and stole two cellphones before fleeing,” police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said.

The GP was taken to hospital but died of his injuries on Tuesday. A murder case has been opened.

Speaking to News24 on Tuesday, family spokesperson Unathi Mabandla said the family was devastated by the tragedy.

“His death was a tragic and unnecessary loss to the family. It was shocking to receive a call from the police on Saturday afternoon saying he had been shot.”

Mabandla said Isabelle’s wife and children were not coping with his death.

Another relative said the doctor had been a victim of an armed robbery about 20 years ago.

Martin Phakathi said soon after qualifying as a doctor, Isabelle had practised in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, where he was attacked and shot in the stomach.

He added that Isabelle had suffered before at the hands of the same community he sought to serve.


In July 2021, he was devastated after looters broke into his practice at a shopping centre, and ransacked and looted it before burning it down.

He said the doctor was distraught because for years, he had treated grandmothers and grandfathers free, but it was people from the same community who had destroyed his practice.

Still intent on serving, however, Isabelle rebuilt his practice in the same area.

Phakathi said Isabelle had moved from the shopping centre because of safety concerns, and had converted a free-standing house he had bought in the same township into a practice, where he continued helping patients.

“But we could sense he had not fully recovered from what had happened in 2021. It had hurt him a lot yet he still wanted to serve, and seemed to be recovering from that trauma,” said Phakathi.

He described the doctor as “a jazz lover who was generous and principled, and had an uncompromising work ethic”.

The tragedy comes nine months after the death of Dr Bantu Noqekwa who was shot in the head at his surgery in Gqeberha.


Meanwhile, Brenda Sibeko, spokesperson for the Soweto Independent Practitioners Association, said the latest incident was painful, considering they had lost another doctor, George Koboka, 56, in a similar fashion – in the same area.

He was shot dead in his Diepkloof surgery in 2022, a week after gunmen had stormed the premises and robbed patients of their cellphones.

“It seems these guys are back in Soweto again,” Sibeko said.

She told TimesLIVE that after the murder of Koboka, they tried to ensure that their practices had strengthened security.

“We tried [to get] the practices contracted to ADT or any other security company, but it meant converting them into small prisons because patients would have had to start checking in at the gate, then the reception desk, up to the consulting rooms.”

She said they had also attempted, on numerous occasions, to work with police for ways to reduce attacks on doctors, to no avail.

“Soweto doctors, we are on our own.”

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