Charlotte Maxeke hospital fire: Patients won't return until 'the building is safe' - Mkhize

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Smoke from the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
Smoke from the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
PHOTO: Twitter/Gauteng Health
  • The government cannot yet establish when patients will be able to return to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
  • The building was significantly damaged in a fire over the weekend.
  • Investigators are establishing the cause of the blaze and an assessment of the damage is being conducted.

National and provincial government have not yet established when patients will be able to return to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, following a devastating blaze.

The inferno, which ravaged parts of the building on Friday and Saturday, significantly damaged parts of the structure.

During a visit to the facility on Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Gauteng MECs Tasneem Motara and Nomathemba Mokgethi, and the hospital's management were unable to say when workers and patients would be able to occupy the building again.

But the minister assured that patients would only be allowed to return when the government is satisfied that it is safe to do so.

Mkhize said the fire started at the dispensary section where personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies were kept.

The cause of the fire remains unknown and the government is waiting for a report from investigators.

"The building has shown significant damages, especially where the fire happened. In some areas, there are the destruction of floors and some floors riddled with holes. We have received a report indicating the level of damages and expedited a timeline [for] contractors' appointment to clear and assess the damage."

He said: 

Thorough assessment should be done by structural engineers who will look at which part of the building is compromised and [to] what extent it is damaged. Another issue is the safety of patients who will reoccupy the building.

"We will not bring patients here until we are satisfied that the building is safe and areas that are damaged are corrected," Mkhize said.

Motara, who heads the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management, claimed the hospital has the appropriate equipment to battle any occurrence.

"At the time the hospital was built, it met fire needs of that time. When we do maintenance and repairs, we ensure that we address them up to current conditions. Inside the hospital, there are fire extinguishers and fire sprinklers that were tested.

"There is a fire hydrant system (in the hospital). What happened on that day was that City of Johannesburg firefighters could not connect to the nearby hydrant and then used an alternative hydrant," Motara said.

The MEC claimed there were 160 hydrants at the hospital.

From the visual assessment conducted, the structure doesn't need to be demolished.

The MEC said: 

The fire only affected the parking area, which is structurally damaged. However, internal floors are not structurally damaged. There is a process that would determine whether the facility will be ultimately demolished or not.

"From our visual assessment, we do believe that we need to conduct structural repairs and not demolish the whole facility. I don't think structural engineers are recommending that," Motara said.

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