Charlotte Maxeke hospital has weak security and fire containment measures, the health department has revealed. Picture: Gauteng Department of Health.
Charlotte Maxeke hospital has weak security and fire containment measures, the health department has revealed. Picture: Gauteng Department of Health.

Security company not linked to theft at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, says Minister Phaahla

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Sep 6, 2021

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Johannesburg - Health Minister Joe Phaahla is adamant the security company contracted to guard Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital could not be linked to the theft charges after a fire which broke out at the health facility in April.

Minister Phaahla said this when he was responding to written parliamentary questions by IFP’s Duduzile Hlengwa.

Hlengwa asked the minister whether, in light of a case opened for theft of items estimated at R200 000 at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, he would furnish with reasons on how some fire doors were left unguarded when an amount of more than R3 million was being spent on security detail each month at the specified hospital.

She also asked whether the relevant security company was being held liable for the theft.

Hlengwa further asked whether there was camera surveillance that could aid with the investigation, given that R450 000 was spent on electronic surveillance each month at the hospital.

In his reply, Phaahla said the Gauteng Health Department reported that immediately after the fire, the City of Johannesburg inspected the facility and found out that the hospital was not compliant in several aspects.

“The hospital has more than 1 500 fire doors, which are at the back of the wards and lead to the fire escape routes. The hospital had to remove burglar doors next to the fire doors and this meant wards were left with no protection on access to the wards.

“This meant that the risk of criminals entering the wards was high in the wards using the back side of the wards without being detected. Plans are in place to review different options of securing the units without compromising fire regulations policies, including extending the CCTV installation to the fire escape routes,” he said.

Phaahla also said the hospital had entered into a service level agreement with the security company, saying the agreement under the schedule of penalties gave guidance to parties on handling of violations to any terms contained in the agreement.

“It has been difficult to apportion the liability to the security company as all hospital staff had to vacate the building due to the uncertainty on the safety of the building, including security personnel.

“During the temporary closure of the hospital, the Department of Infrastructure Development took advantage of the situation and invited contractors to do fire remedial work and some maintenance work in the wards. This meant that the hospital had several contractors on site.

“Most of the hospital walkways are covered by camera surveillance except for the fire escape routes as per a response to question number 1. The fire escape routes did not have CCTV coverage, they had burglar proofs. As a result, it was not possible to review that footage in the areas where equipment was stolen,” Phaahla said.

He also said the monthly payment of R450 000 was for repairs and maintenance of CCTV equipment.

The monitoring of cameras was done by physical security.

“CCTV’s have assisted before in identifying and investigating criminal activities within the hospital. Where criminals are identified the hospital submitted footage to SAPS and had successful prosecutions before. It is for this reason that the hospital is now exploring the latest technology to have surveillance in fire escape routes,” Phaahla said.

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Political Bureau

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