'Stupidity' the reason for Charlotte Maxeke hospital collapse‚ says doctor - Times LIVE
Sat Apr 29 19:25:57 SAST 2017

'Stupidity' the reason for Charlotte Maxeke hospital collapse‚ says doctor

Katharine Child | 2017-03-02 17:17:57.0

As rescue workers continued their efforts to free two people still trapped under a collapsed foyer at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital‚ a doctor there has explained what he thought had led to the collapse.

The doctor‚ who asked not to be named‚ had left before the incident‚ but went back to help colleagues immediately afterwards. He said a section of roof measuring about 30 metres by 20 metres collapsed.

He didn’t feel unsafe about continuing to work at the hospital. "It’s a concrete building. It is going nowhere‚" he said.

"This is an isolated incident. Waterproofing has been taking place on the roof. The collapse has happened because of stupidity‚" he said.

"The old waterproofing was gravel on a roof that was a few metres thick before the collapse‚" said the doctor "Now they have been redoing the roof‚ they have moved all the gravel to one side. That gravel which normally covers 100 square metres has been piled onto one small side of the roof."

The doctor said the recent rain compounding the gravel situation was probably why the roof collapsed.

A civil engineer has also offered his views. The engineer‚ who also asked to be anonymous said that at first glance‚ the site did not seem safe to work on.

"These are obviously preliminary observations because I have not been on site to see this‚ nor have I looked at the drawings‚ but my first concern was why concrete was cast on what seems to be typical roof sheeting‚" he said.

"I don't think that roof sheeting is suitable to have concrete cast on it‚ if it is concrete."

He was commenting after seeing pictures from the scene.

"You are not supposed to pour concrete with typical roof sheeting. There is specialised sheeting for that‚” he added.

Typically‚ it was not ideal to cast concrete without some form of steel reinforcement or a mesh wire.

"Looking at the broken pieces of concrete‚ they have [none of that] inside‚" the engineer said.

Reports from the scene were that stones had been placed on parts of the roof and that possibly led to the collapse.

"But really‚ a well designed stable roof should handle those stones‚ unless it was a really huge heap of which I doubt it was‚" he added.

The Gauteng Department of Health has confirmed that seven people were injured, including two construction workers‚ members of the public and at least one hospital staff member.

"The incident happened while private construction workers were filling in a leaking section of the roof," the department said in a statement.

The department said emergency services were on the scene and‚ "working hard in the main entrance of the hospital where the incident happened‚ trying to ascertain if there are no other people trapped under the rubble".

It said Gauteng MEC for Health‚ Dr Gwen Ramokgopa‚ was at the scene.

“We want to assure the public that we share their concerns in terms of patient safety‚ while confirming that the incident is confined to the main entrance of the hospital‚ so patients are not affected.”


A fifteen-year-old girl who didn't want her name used‚ told TimesLIVE she was "lost for words" as the roof collapsed just as she was about to enter the hospital.

"I was late for my appointment at the dentist. I was about to go in when it happened. In my mind‚ I didn't think the roof would fall. I'm lost for words‚" she said.

"All I saw was the roof collapse‚ and then there was a lot of dust. I could just hear people scream and then we came outside‚" she said.

"I'm glad I wasn't trapped inside‚ but I still feel really bad for the people trapped inside."





- TMG Digital


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