Copper piping worth R30m was stolen from Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke hospital while it stood empty but under security guard, after being gutted by fire in April, reports BusinessLive
According to BusinessLive, this emerged recently as pressure from health activists, doctors and professors forced the Gauteng Health to open the radiology department to address the backlog of cancer patients needing treatment.
A source who did not want to be identified said the theft of the piping meant that some parts of the hospital were without hot water. During the phased reopening staff also discovered that televisions in the paediatric oncology wards, used to entertain sick children, had been stolen, as had a microwave oven used by staff. All of the areas where thefts occurred were being guarded by security staff, several sources say.
BusinessLive reports that this looting is yet another episode in the mismanagement of the hospitalʼs infrastructure, which was highlighted when the fire broke out on April 16 and emergency personnel discovered the fire hydrants were not working. The issue, it seems, was that metal couplings had been stolen from the hydrants, rendering them useless.
Kwara Kekana, spokesperson for Gauteng Health, said efforts to replace the stolen pipes were "at an advanced stage". She declined to say when the latest theft occurred, describing crime as a long-standing problem.
“The hospital has experienced theft of several high-risk items, including the copper pipes and toilet flush pipes, over the years. A decision was taken to replace flush pipes with plastic, which has no resale value,” she said, adding that the hospital removed computers and other equipment after the blaze. “The security team and assets management are investigating and reconciling their records on such equipment.”
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