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Irregular security contracts, suspected sabotage blamed for Gauteng hospital fires

On May 30 at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, a fire broke out at the temporary structures. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

On May 30 at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, a fire broke out at the temporary structures. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 7, 2022

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Pretoria - Gauteng public hospitals will continue to suffer unless the irregular extension of security contracts is scrapped to bring value for money, in terms of securing the infrastructure.

On Tuesday night, yet another fire broke out at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

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The DA’s Jack Bloom said he was horrified to hear that there had been another fire at the Johannesburg hospital.

Bloom said from the videos circulating online, smoke could be seen in the parking lot under the hospital.

Reports detailed that the fire appeared to have been outside the main building, and had only affected a parking lot.

Although the fire was put out, Bloom said it was unbelievable that another fire could have started at the hospital, in spite of the hefty sum of R40 million a year being spent on security.

He said hospitals in the province were not getting value for money in terms of security, and he believed the Department of Health was overpaying for the services, which were not yielding success.

According to the Department of Health, security contracts at hospitals were being irregularly awarded on a month-to-month basis since the 2015 agreements expired in 2017.

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“A full investigation is needed and sabotage should definitely be suspected. To make matters worse we still do not have a report on the devastating fire at the hospital in April last year that started in a storeroom. Many staff members think that this was deliberately done to cover up the evidence of corruption.”

Tuesday’s fire is the fourth at a Gauteng public hospital this year. On May 30 at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, a fire broke out at the temporary structures.

The second incident took place on June 12 in a linen closet in the medical ward at the hospital.

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The concerns of sabotage were also raised by Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi during the social and governance cluster post-budget vote briefing in the legislature last month.

Mokgethi said it appeared the department was dealing with fires every year.

Two weeks ago a fire also broke out at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital near the Covid-19 tents and reportedly spread to the laundry site before being put out.

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Bloom added it could not be ignored that in the last seven years there had been nine fires in Gauteng hospitals, as well as the unexplained incidents at the department head office, which razed the Bank of Lisbon building and resulted in the deaths of three firefighters.

“We need answers from the Gauteng Health Department as to why there are so many fires and what is being done to prevent them. The non-release of fire investigation reports looks more and more like a cover-up and the DA will continue to press for them to be made public,” he said.

Pretoria News

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