File photo: Michael Walker/Independent Media
Cape Town - It could take months before the Swartland District Hospital is fully operational again after a fire engulfed the Malmesbury health centre at the weekend.

Local and provincial government officials visited the hospital on Sunday following Saturday's incident, which saw 76 patients and staff being evacuated and housed at the Dutch Community Church Hall and a nearby community hall before being transported to other medical facilities for further medical attention.

“I would like to thank all community members and our staff members, who worked tirelessly to ensure that no patients were harmed during this crisis," said Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

“What is more important to note is the involvement of the community, churches, local government and the community members.” Taking to social media, residents expressed their shock and relief that no one was injured.

The ANC also expressed its “horror” at the fire. “The ANC calls on the DA-run provincial government to immediately start an investigation into the cause and maintenance problems experienced at this crucial institution serving mostly poor people,” said the ANC’s Maurencia Gillion.

The department confirmed renovations worth R15 million were under way, but said the extent of the damage and cause of the fire was still under investigation.

The hospital's patients were transported to Stellenbosch Hospital, Paarl Hospital, Wesfleur Hospital in Atlantis, Lapa Munnik Hospital in Porterville, Radie Kotze Hospital in Piketberg and Vredenburg Hospital.

Relatives of the patients would be contacted regarding their whereabouts, while patients would now be treated as in-patients at the facilities where they were being cared for. Mbombo’s spokesperson, Zimkhitha Mqutheni, said: “Only limited sections of the hospital will be accessible and we will only have an emergency centre in the current outpatients and two general wards.

"We hope to have these areas available in this week. It will depend on the restoration of water and electricity supply.”

Bulelani Penxa, ward 9 councillor for the Swartland Municipality, expressed relief after the incident, saying he was pleased no one was injured.

“When we heard about the incident, we immediately made our way to the hospital.

“It was fortunate that no one was injured and for people to be safely transported to other medical facilities.

"In the meantime, we will also be using the daycare centre at Ilingelethu Community Centre to treat the patients.”

Mbombo said the focus would now be to ascertain which part of the hospital would be used going forward.

Cape Argus