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

A gunman who fired several shots at Westville Hospital in Durban on Friday has been shot dead.

The man had held one woman hostage for almost four hours before she was rescued, said KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker.

She had sustained a gunshot wound.

Initial police reports were that he had taken two hostages but police later found the second woman safe in the hospital.

“After negotiating.... the guy was (still) not responding,” said Naicker.

He had been holding his hostage in the hospital's kitchen.

Police entered and shot him dead.

It was believed the man may have been suffering from a bipolar disorder.

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

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

Three people were injured.

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 bsustained wounds to her leg and shoulder.

They were receiving treatment and were in a stable condition.

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

She was taken to the hospital's first floor but managed to escape. - Sapa