State fails to upgrade empty hospital
Nothing has come of all the plans to revamp it
THE reconstruction of the old Kempton Park Hospital remains a dream as the government continues to delay its R244 million revamp that should have been completed three years ago.
Five years ago, the Gauteng Health Department committed itself to rebuilding the ninestorey structure, which accommodated up to 350 beds in its heyday.
The reopening of its doors would have eased the high in-flow of patients at the nearby Tembisa and Edenvale hospitals in Ekurhuleni.
The department said construction would start in March 2013 and was to have been completed by July 2014. At the time, the department said the hospital was closed in 1996 because of the low-patient intake.
In November 2016 thenhealth MEC Qedani Mahlangu said the hospital would be demolished for renovations by January. But this too did not materialise.
Since the 2013 commitment, almost nothing has been done to the site except for paint markings on the driveway near the reception area and the erection of a high fence on the perimeters in September.
The rusted medical and theatre equipment and patient files that were left when the hospital suddenly closed 21 years ago, are still kept there.
Another security company was hired in 2013 after it emerged that their predecessors were taking bribes from teenagers who seemed fascinated by the so-called haunted hospital.
The department allegedly spends about R1m a year on securing the hospital, which was targeted by vandals in the past. The building was also being used as a hideout for criminals, who terrorised homeowners in Van Riebeeck Park.
Top Six Security Services supervisor Xolani Radebe said crime and vandalism has gone down drastically since the erection of the fence. “But we still get people who are fascinated by this building and they would come and ask to shoot music videos or commentaries here. We refer them to the department,” said Radebe.
Deon Aspeling, of Estpro Estate, said the area near the the hospital still had value for property owners and since the closure of the hospital, many of its doctors bought property nearby and converted it into consulting rooms.
This was done in the hope that the hospital would reopen soon.
“Homes closer to the hospital have lost value. The other negative effect is that those doctors’ offices will be too costly to buy and convert into a house,” said Aspeling.
According to Mahlangu’s written reply to DA questions in the legislature in November, the demolition should have been completed in January.
Last week, the department’s spokesperson, Prince Hamnca, could only say: “The department is currently in a planning phase with regard to the revamping of this institution.”
He did not reply to follow-up questions.
GOING TO WASTE: Kempton Park Hospital has been left to slide into decay after it was abandoned 21 years ago.
KEEPING CRIMINALS AT BAY: Since 2013 nothing has been done at the site, apart from minimal paint work and the erection of a security fence.