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Mystery surrounds city doctor found dead

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Kimberley police have opened an inquest docket into the death a 37-year-old woman who was found dead in her house on Friday. An autopsy will be conducted to ascertain the cause of her death

MYSTERY: Kimberley and its medical fraternity are reeling in shock following the unexplained death of West End Hospital medical officer, Doctor Caryn Collins (right), who was found dead in her bed at home. The cause of death has yet to be established, while her car was still parked in the driveway. Her mother, Ingrid Fourie, seen here with friends and police officials at her daughters home, rushed to Kimberley from Cape Town when her daughter did not respond to phone calls or messages. Picture: Soraya Crowie

KIMBERLEY and its medical fraternity are reeling in shock following the unexplained death of West End Hospital medical officer Dr Caryn Collins, who was found dead in her bed at her home in MacDougal Street by her colleagues on Friday.

The cause of death has yet to be established and police spokesperson, Captain Olebogeng Tawana, stated yesterday that an inquest docket had been opened into her death.

“Kimberley police have opened an inquest docket into the death a 37-year-old woman who was found dead in her house on Friday. An autopsy will be conducted to ascertain the cause of her death.”

Neighbours recalled seeing Collins on Friday morning and related that nothing seemed out of the ordinary, while her car was still parked in the driveway.

“We greeted each other as we always do and it looked like she was preparing to go to work. I struggled to accept the news of her death. She was such a bubbly person,” said one neighbour.

Collins’ mother, Ingrid Fourie, rushed to Kimberley from Cape Town when her daughter did not respond to phone calls or messages on Friday.
“I last spoke to her on Thursday. She always reports for duty, even if she is sick, or will always let her colleagues know if she is not coming in to work. I realised that something was wrong as the WhatsApp messages that I sent to her remained unread .”

Fourie instructed Dr Zygmunt Piotrowski and other colleagues of her daughter to break down the door or force their way inside.
“They managed to enter and found Caryn lying face down in her bed. One of her cats that she had rescued stayed with her the whole time.”

Fourie stated that shortly before her death, her daughter had complained about having flu symptoms and headaches.

“She suffered from allergies and had a bad chest. On Thursday she said that her migraine had subsided a little.”

Fourie also stated that her daughter had fallen victim to a number of break-ins at her home since October last year.

“All the windows of the house were kept shut as suspects previously forced their way onto the property through the glass windows. I had pleaded with the estate agent to tighten security because Caryn felt unsafe and she sometimes came home late at night. She always shut the security railing on the bedroom door before she went to sleep. The motor to the front gate was also stolen on more than one occasion.”

Fourie said that her daughter had chosen to work in Kimberley and wanted to specialise in forensic psychiatry.

“She had a passion for her work. Caryn fell in love with the people in Kimberley and was intent on making a difference in the lives of the people living here. She fought fiercely for the rights of her patients as well as awaiting trial prisoners with mental disabilities.

“She was so full of life and always remained optimistic. I will miss her dearly. She was my only child.

“She always went out of her way to help others and would buy toothpaste, toiletries and treats for her patients when they were not able to afford their own. She never hesitated to assist patients in far-flung areas of the Province during outreach programmes.

“She loved animals and never went a day without feeding the stray cats at West End Hospital.”

Fourie added that a memorial service would be held in the city on Thursday while her daughter would be buried in Cape Town.

The MEC for Health, Lebogang Motlhaping, extended her condolences to the Collins family on behalf of the department.

“Dr Collins was employed in the department since 2014 as a medical officer specialising in psychiatry at West End Hospital in Kimberley. She will be greatly missed by her colleagues and patients alike,” said Motlhaping.

“The South African Police Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding her death. We understand that an autopsy will be conducted early next week.”

He added that the department was not aware of any threats made to Collins at her residence.

“The residence is a private property rented by Dr Collins from a private landlord.

“The department is working closely with the family to ensure that the burden of her death is bearable to the extent of providing assistance and will be guided by the family on burial proceedings.”

Motlhaping indicated that the department would do everything possible to ensure that service delivery was not interrupted.

Collins’ Facebook page was filled with messages from friends expressing shock at the news of her death.

“Horrific news about a beautiful human being – RIP Caryn Alexis Collins. Still in shock and I know all of us who knew you will testify to your brilliant smile, boundless energy, incredible generosity of spirit, fierce intellect and your fierceness.

“You had endured plenty of pain enough for two lives and yet your resilience always shone through. Troubled. Feisty. Gregarious. Health professional deeply committed to your calling.”

Others also paid tribute to her dedication to her work when she was employed at Constantiaberg Mediclinic and the Khayelitsha district hospital medicine department.

“I’m feeling shaken. Your contagious smile and laugh since 2 000 has never faded. You have been an inspiration to me and a mentor. You were nothing short of a magical spirit and I hope to continue to be inspired by your ability to take the bull by the balls and have an excellent reason for doing so. Gone too soon but never forgotten.”