Ghosts that haunt the old hospital


There is a jar of kidneys on the floor, purple graffiti on the wall and an unpleasant smell in the air.

The large, round theatre light that once beamed down on operations now dangles uselessly from the ceiling.

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A jar containing what seems to be human organs is found on the second floor of the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital. 
Picture: Timothy BernardThe front entrance of Kempton Park Hospital, abandoned in 1996 and is now an attraction for youngsters who come to experience a ghostly thrill. 
Picture: Timothy Bernard

“This is the room I was born in,” says Ronald Hart.

He was born at Kempton Park Hospital in 1991.

Five years later it was abandoned and became a dark shell for ghosts.

“It suddenly closed down. When it was open it was one of the best hospitals in the region,” Hart says.

It was the day after Christmas, 1996, when they shut the doors. It wasn’t what they took out but what they left behind that has made the hospital a haunt for teenage rebels and ghost hunters.

Almost every room is littered with abandoned hospital equipment. Metal beds are without occupants. Corridors are blocked by dialysis machines and operating tables. Filing cabinets burst with old medical records.

Hart is fascinated with it. He looked up his birth records to find out which theatre he was born in and has visited the hospital countless times since 2006.

He runs a Facebook group called “A true history of the untold – Kempton Park Hospital” where people share stories of the hospital and upload pictures of their expeditions there.

Standing on the hospital’s roof, we look out on the lights of the living city.

Hart talks with the rhythm of a tour guide.

“On a clear night you can see Pretoria… I like to come here when I’m depressed.”

Tonight is misty. And Hart’s peers don’t visit the hospital for quiet contemplation. Broken glass crunches underfoot and graffiti mingles with unnaturally red blood on the walls.

Hooded teenagers stalk the outside of the building.

Kempton Park Hospital is an expensive playground.

Equipment left here has been estimated to be worth R10 million. Security costs R1m a year.

But after midnight on a Saturday, the front doors are wide open. As long as you have R40 on you, keep your torch down when you are near the window and don’t make too much noise, the guards fade away with the ghosts.

In 2006, plans to reopen it were launched. But there was controversy around tender processes. In 2008, the Health Department said it would make provisions in the 2010/11 budget to reopen it as a 270-bed facility in a private-public partnership. But a feasibility study showed it would cost R350m just to reopen it as a 210-bed private facility.

Every day the building, estimated to have been worth R23m, gets more dilapidated.

The hospital is increasingly a home for the strange. Lying on the floor is an illustrated step-by-step guide on how to shave your bikini line correctly.

In a second-floor storeroom there are FHM pictures of girls in bikinis, their eyes scratched out so they look like beautiful demons. Alone in an empty room is a small wooden chair just big enough for a child.

In the emergency theatres, heart monitors stand next to the metal operating tables. You could do an operation there tonight. If you had a body.

On the Facebook page there are rumours that people have.

Every now and then someone hears a noise, feels breathing. “I saw something by the window,” says Hart’s friend.

“That’s your own shadow, bru,” Hart shoots back.

The only ghosts I feel are the ghosts of wasted opportunity.

There are about 40 incubators lying around, when it has been reported that in some hospitals babies lie in cardboard boxes. Next to the rows of incubators, a metal locker cage with a tiny Bible trapped inside.

The high-pitched shriek of a teenage girl outside cuts the air.

Or maybe it was a police siren. We amble through the wide main doors of the hospital. The dark finger of the crematorium’s chimney points to heaven.

“Let’s just be honest – the ghost stories and stuff… that’s not true. The untold stories, that’s what I’m looking for,” says Hart. – The Star

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