State fails to up­grade empty hospi­tal

Noth­ing has come of all the plans to re­vamp it

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - LINDILE SIFILE

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.

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