8 Gauteng hospital fires in 7 years

The DA is concerned that yesterday’s fire at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is the third fire at a Gauteng public hospital this year, and the eighth fire in 7 years.

According to the Gauteng Health Department, the fire at Bara hospital occurred near the Covid-19 tents, and then spread to the laundry site before it was put out by City of Johannesburg fire services.

This follows a fire at temporary structures at the Steve Biko Hospital on 30 May this year, and another fire at this hospital on 12 June when there was a blaze in a linen closet in a medical ward.

All three fires were put out speedily, but it could have been far worse.

Other hospital fires include the following:

• severe damage at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in April last year.
• a fire destroyed a store room at the Carletonville Hospital in February last year.
• a fire broke out at an administration block at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in May 2019.
• dental rooms at the Tambo Memorial Hospital were destroyed by fire in July 2016.
• R7 million of medical supplies were destroyed by a fire in a store room at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in May 2015.

Furthermore, there was the fire that started at the Gauteng Health Department’s head office at the Bank of Lisbon building in September 2018, which burnt down the entire building and 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 devastating fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

The slow investigations and non-release of reports fuel suspicions of a cover-up to protect negligent officials and politicians.

According to a presentation at a recent meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee, only 50% of Gauteng public hospitals are compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The DA will continue to press for the release of fire investigation reports, and for better fire prevention at our hospitals so that the lives of patients and staff are not at risk.