State security agency called in after Charlotte Maxeke Hospital Fire

The Gauteng provincial government has called in the State Security Agency (SSA) following a police forensic investigation which indicated arson as the cause of the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) in April 2021.

This is disclosed in a reply by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Lesufi:

“The Office of the Premier and Gauteng Department of Health requested the State Security Agency (SSA) to embark on an investigation of incidents of theft and vandalism at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH). The SSA subsequently submitted its investigation report to the Office of the Premier.”

The SSA recommended the following:

•Effective management of Service Level Agreements and enforcement of punitive measures to ensure fair application of powers.

• Due to the critical nature of risks that exist within the hospital, Risk and Security Management directorates should report directly to the Accounting Officer (HOD) in line with the King IV Report.

• A CMJAH vetting plan needs to be developed and implemented in line with the SSA vetting strategy.

•CMJAH management should prioritise the implementation of the OHS regulations to counter the recurrence of fire incidents within the hospital.

The Premier’s Office has directed the Gauteng Health Department to implement these recommendations.

While these recommendations are sensible, the big question is why there is no effort to find the arsonists who caused terrible damage to the hospital, with so much suffering to hundreds of patients.

Furthermore, why are there no consequences for those who failed to prevent the fire in the first place?

The hospital CEO Gladys Bogoshi should face disciplinary charges for the deficiencies identified in this report which should be made public.

There should be no protection of incompetent staff who should be replaced with capable people who mitigate risks and provide decent treatment to patients.