KZN hospital's R6m building torched allegedly in protest over its use as Covid-19 treatment centre

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu-Simelane Zulu
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu-Simelane Zulu
PHOTO: Kaveel Singh, News24
  • The KwaZulu-Natal health department said it will not be deterred from using a new hospital near Eshowe to treat Covid-19 patients.
  • Parts of it were burnt down, allegedly by people unhappy over its conversion into a Covid-19 treatment facility.
  • KZN's health MEC has said if the community didn't want it, they may have to ask the premier to shut it down.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department has said it will continue to use the newly built R6-million Catherine Booth Hospital for Covid-19 after it was partly burnt down, allegedly over its treatment of Covid-19 patients.

According to a statement by the KZN health department, it is alleged that the torching of the brand new centre in Amatikulu, near Eshowe, was linked to disquiet among sections of the community over the conversion of a part of the hospital into a Covid–19 treatment facility. The centre was also burned down three years ago.

"The fully furnished centre, with computer equipment and some patient files, also had offices for the occupational safety nurse, monitoring and evaluation personnel, infection prevention and control officials, as well as the public relations officer," the department said.

Police said it is alleged that at 01:00 on Thursday, a group of unknown people attacked the hospital in Eshowe and set alight a "park home" comprised of eight offices.

One security guard was left with a facial injury after he was hit by an object during the incident.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said all the equipment in the offices was burnt.

'We are in a crisis'

The hospital has 127 beds and 39 patients. According to the department, three of the patients are in isolation and receiving treatment for Covid–19, while another two are in quarantine, awaiting their results.

"We are in a crisis. This is a pandemic that all of us are faced with," Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said.

"And the department has a responsibility to ensure that it provides all the beds that are needed, so that those who are Covid–19 positive get the assistance they need," she added.

She said: 

We're going to continue using this hospital for Covid-19 as and when it is necessary for us to do so.

She said if the community does not allow them to do that, it means they do not need the hospital.

"So, we might then need to go back to the premier and request that this facility be closed down, because we're not going to have a facility that will be a white elephant and not be utilised."

The Eshowe police are investigating charges of arson and malicious damage to property.

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