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2014-10-16 18:26

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Johannesburg - The Old Natalspruit Hospital in Katlehong could become a substance abuse rehabilitation facility if the community agrees, the Gauteng health department said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba said in a statement: "Provincial and local government leaders and Kathorus community leaders on Wednesday agreed on the future of the decommissioned Old Natalspruit Hospital.

"The community stakeholders forum comes after Gauteng's department of infrastructure development MEC Ms Nandi Mayathula-Khoza's call for the community to save the hospital."

The hospital had been vandalised on several occasions by criminals stripping it for scrap metal.

The meeting also proposed that the hospital should offer a skills development centre," Xaba said.

"However, the broader community must agree and for that, a public meeting is scheduled in a week's time."

Scrap metal

Mayathula-Khoza said the government took theft at the hospital very seriously, with elaborate security measures being put in place by the Gauteng community safety department.

The department on Thursday also convened a security cluster meeting with the SA Police Service and Ekurhuleni metro police.

"Measures being explored range from the involvement of local scrap metal businesses, community patrols, to the invitation of the military as part of efforts to secure the hospital," she said.

"But we cannot use so much resources to secure the non-functional hospital. A decision on its alternative use and the implementation thereof must happen soonest."

Ekurhuleni metro MMC for social development and health Makhosazana Maluleke said she would from Tuesday until Friday next week invite submissions from local NGOs and other organisations on the alternative use of the hospital.

"While we don't necessarily prescribe to people as what proposals they must submit, we are interested in expertise that can help us understand how best we can utilise the hospital," she said.

This was so it could curb unemployment and the "rampant" substance abuse by especially young people.

Demolition plans

"We are also interested in ways that can help create jobs and provide skills training as part of our community development drive," said Maluleke.

Infrastructure development department head Bethuel Netshiswinzhe said the bulk of the hospital building, now in its mid-70s, might need an assessment by structural engineers regarding its future use.

The department would provide this report, the geotechnical land report, demolition plans and funding and maintenance plans of the proposed rehabilitation centre at the public meetings.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  narcotics

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