Laid to waste

2017-02-21 06:00
The former hospital’s building has fallen prey to extreme vandalism and theft since its closure. This section of the South-Western wing of the hospital has been stripped bare, allowing one to see through the entire building.

The former hospital’s building has fallen prey to extreme vandalism and theft since its closure. This section of the South-Western wing of the hospital has been stripped bare, allowing one to see through the entire building. (Earl Haupt)

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What was GF Jooste Hospital is just a bare shell of what it once was.

Now, 14 security guards patrol what is left at the site. When People’s Post visited the site last week a number of them were sitting in the shadows of one of the remaining walls while a lurking shadow approached the opposite end of the building, unseen by those meant to guard the perimeter.

The perimeter, while devoid of any guard, is without a fence.

The once prominent building has been taken away piece by piece and the area laid to waste. Almost four years after its closure, grand plans to first upgrade, then build a new hospital, are as apparent as the missing roof.

No “immediate decision has yet been made by relevant authorities” on the future development of the site, according to the provincial department of public works and transport.

“The department of transport and public works is preparing the necessary documentation to ensure a resolution to the future of the site at the earliest possibility,” states Byron la Hoe, department spokesperson.

The building is currently under the jurisdiction of the department. After new plans to upgrade the site along with the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP) plans for Manenberg, the City of Cape Town sought to take transfer of the site, but that too has fallen by the wayside.

“There is a service provider on site attending to security. The Department of Transport and Public Works aligns itself with law enforcement agencies to prevent these activities from occurring but, to date, attempts have not yielded sufficiently positive results. Given the current climate in the Manenberg area security personnel are fearing for their lives,” adds La Hoe.

He says that the department is planning on securing the site by erecting fences and lighting.

“Securing the site and improving safety measures on site will require a mandatory procurement process. We are therefore unable to disclose an exact time frame for these interventions,” he says.

Chairperson for the Manenberg Safety Forum, Roegshanda Pascoe, says the area is in dire need of upliftment, particularly at the site of the decommissioned GF Jooste.

“Our provincial leadership should go and apologise and compensate those families (staying next to Jooste), because in the first place, they knew what the consequences were going to be. I cannot blame the [security guards] for failing to protect the property. Who is going to see to their families if they are injured?” Pascoe questions.

She adds that the major stakeholders knew what the situation could be like well before they made their decision to close down the site.

“If anything should happen, if they intervene, they knew from the word go that what is this is going to be the state of affairs. But we in communities like Manenberg are always treated worse than animals.

“We are saying ‘enough is enough’. We want our hospital.”

The police are aware of the crime taking place on the premises, but are reliant on the public to report the incidents, says Captain Ian Bennett, Manenberg police spokesperson.

“It is not our mandate to look after or secure a building site or a decommissioned building. All 4 Security has been designated to secure the property. Several meetings have been held to sensitise the company on the criminal activity taking place. They have agreed to increase the security personnel. Several cases have been opened in relation to the decommissioned building such as, possession of stolen property, theft and complaints of vandalism have been dealt with,” says Bennett.

He adds that officers will continue to police the area and respond to all criminal activity reported to their office.

Anyone with information regarding theft and the vandalising if the decommissioned property can call Manenberg police station on 021 699 9400 or CrimeStop on 0860 010 111.

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