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Fires at public hospitals cause for concern

Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)

Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 23, 2022

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Siyabonga Sithole

Emergency services from the Jabulani and Dobsonville fire departments acted swiftly to contain a fire that broke out at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on Wednesday.

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Strong winds were pointed out as the source of the fire that burnt disposable linen at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital which broke out at the Soweto hospital.

According to the department of health in the province, fire fighters from the emergency services department were able to contain the fire which did not cause serious damage to the property.

The fire believed to have started at the open space near the Covid-19 tents lining up a part of the hospital.

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In a statement the department says there were no causalities reported.

"The Gauteng Department of Health can confirm that there was a fire at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. The fire started at a open space near the Covid-19 tents. Due to strong winds the fire spread to the laundry site and damaged part of the linen before its disposal.

The City of Johannesburg Fire services from Dobsonville and Jabulani arrived on time before the fire could spread to the usable linen area and parts of the building,"reads the statement.

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This is not the first hospital to be affected by fire in recent weeks.

Last month, part of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane was engulfed in flames and 18 patients and a body had to be transferred to other areas of the hospital following the incident affecting a temporary structure.

Fortunately there were no casualties

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Gauteng MEC of health, Nomathemba Mokgethi says that the number of fire incidents are leading her to think of sabotage.

Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital another health facility currently recovering from a fire incident that took place over a year ago with extensive damage to the hospital property affecting various sections.

"It looks like every year in the department of health we have to deal with fires. I will be getting a report from the law enforcement agency, especially on the Charlotte Maxeke issue," the MEC said during a social and governance cluster post budget vote briefing at the Gauteng Legislature on May.

However, the Democratic Alliance has slammed the provincial health department for its non-release of reports on investigations adding that it is concerned over the increasing number of fire incidents at public hospitals across the province.

Shadow minister of health, Jack Bloom said the fire to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital was the 7th fire incident in two years with three fires blazing in under one year.

"All three fires (Bara, Steve Biko and Charlotte Maxeke) were put out speedily, but it could have been worse.

Furthermore, there was a fire that started at the Gauteng Health Department head offices at the Bank of Lisbon building in 2018 which cost the lives of three fire fighters.

We still do not have a report on the Bank of Lisbon building fire nor do we know the cause of the fire at Charlotte Maxeke.

This slow investigation and non- release of reports fuel suspicions of a cover-up to protect negligent officials and politicians," Bloom said.

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