A hostage situation at Westville Hospital in Durban ended when snipers shot and killed the hostage taker.

Negotiations were underway with a man who has taken two women hostage at the Westville Hospital in Durban on Friday, KwaZulu-Natal police said.

“Hostage negotiators are presently at the scene trying to diffuse the situation and secure the safe release of the hostages,” said Colonel Jay Naicker.

“At approximately 7:40am, the suspect demanded to see a doctor or nurse and became impatient and began firing shots randomly.”

Hospital staff, patients, and visitors panicked and ran in different directions for cover.

Three people were injured, said Naicker.

The hospital said among those injured were a nurse who was struck by a ricocheted shell, a security guard who was shot in the leg, and a member of the catering staff who sustained wounds to her leg and shoulder.

Hospital spokeswoman Leanne Nyiri said the gunman then took a receptionist hostage.

She was taken to the hospital's first floor but managed to escape, Nyiri said in a statement.

The injured were receiving treatment in the hospital and were stable.

Naicker said the two who were taken hostage were from the catering staff and were being held in the kitchen.

One of the women was shot, and it had not been established whether the second hostage had injuries, said Nyiri.

The hospital's emergency plan was activated and the situation was under control, she said.

“All patients in the hospital are secure and safe.”

Alternative catering arrangements had been made for patients via other hospitals, and all resident doctors were being informed.

Public access to the hospital has been closed and hospital admissions were diverted.

Police and emergency services were on site.

Trauma counselling was being provided to affected staff. - Sapa