‘Hijacked' hospital a safe home

2013-09-08 10:01

A Soweto TB hospital that was closed down in 2010 has been taken over by an enterprising “landlord” who has turned it into a hostel – complete with a crèche for tenants’ children.

There’s just one problem: The Gauteng ­department of infrastructure development still owns the building and its tenants are living there illegally.

Before Charles Hurwitz TB Hospital was closed, between 100 and 150 new patients were admitted every month.

When City Press visited the hospital recently, many of its rooms were occupied, a construction crew was ­diligently renovating parts of the premises and one area had been ­converted into a crèche.

A man who identified himself as a security guard told the City Press team that if we wanted a room, it could be available within a week or two.

He said: “Rooms cost between R1?000 and R3?000, depending on the size you want.”

The guard assured us that although the rooms weren’t divided, they could be partitioned to suit our needs.

A woman who refused to give her name and who said she shared a room with her friend explained that she moved into the building in ­February.

Her roommate had been told by a friend that rooms were being let “at a very cheap price”.

The pair pays R1?000 a month, and both said they had no problem using the building’s communal bathrooms and toilets because these were ­perfectly safe.

The security guard ­echoed their sentiments, saying that the “complex” was very safe.

Surprisingly, the infrastructure development department admits it’s aware that the hospital has been hijacked.

Athi Geleba, the department’s spokesperson, said an investigation “has been instituted into this matter”.

“A report on the findings will then guide us as to how we proceed and what action we can take,” Geleba said.

It’s not clear how long this investigation will take.

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