Arson was cause of Carletonville Hospital fire in which R20m worth of equipment was destroyed

07 October 2021 - 10:54
A storage area in a building outside the main hospital in Carletonville on the West Rand caught fire on February 4 this year.
A storage area in a building outside the main hospital in Carletonville on the West Rand caught fire on February 4 this year.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/Sowetan

The fire that destroyed R20m worth of equipment in a storeroom at the Carletonville Hospital in February this year was caused by arson.

This is according to the findings of a fire brigade investigation. The findings were revealed by Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in response to questions by DA Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom in the Gauteng Legislature.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment estimated to be worth over R20m were destroyed in the fire.

The blaze, which started in the early hours of February 4 , took about three hours to extinguish t. No-one was injured. 

Bloom said the fire destroyed R16.5m worth of equipment that was being stored for the Anglo Ashanti Hospital, and R3.8m worth of PPE being stored for the Carletonville Hospital.

“I suspect that the fire could have been caused to cover up corruption concerning the PPE or the equipment meant for the Anglo Ashanti Hospital. The Special Investigating Unit has already made adverse findings on the R500m spent on renovating the Anglo Ashanti Hospital,” Bloom said. 

Bloom said according to a fire forensic report, there were traces of an accelerant in between the equipment in the storeroom, which indicates that arson was the cause of the fire.

“It was also noted that no member of the public had access to the hospital due to Covid-19 restrictions, which infers that the fire was started by an official within the hospital premises,” Bloom said.

He said a criminal case of arson has been opened, but police are still investigating and no-one has yet been arrested.

Bloom said there are indications that the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital may also have been to destroy the evidence of corruption at the stores.

“The enormous losses and disruption of hospital activities because of these fires causes extra suffering to sick patients. It is vitally important that fire prevention measures are upgraded at all hospitals, and perpetrators of arson should be apprehended and brought to justice,” he said.

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