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Arson caused the fire that destroyed equipment and PPE worth millions, MEC reveals

MEC for health in Gauteng Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

MEC for health in Gauteng Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 7, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG: Arson was behind the fire that destroyed equipment, worth more than R20 million, in a Carletonville Hospital storeroom in February this year, a fire brigade investigation has found.

Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi revealed this in a written reply to questions DA MPL and its spokesperson on health Jack Bloem posed in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature

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No one was injured in the fire.

According to the Fire Forensic report, there were traces of an accelerant in between the equipment in the storeroom, which indicated that arson was the cause of the fire.

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

“The fire destroyed R16.5 million of equipment which was being stored for the Anglo Ashanti Hospital, and R3.8 million PPE for the Carletonville Hospital,” she said.

Mokgethi said a criminal case of arson had been opened. Police were investigating and no one has been arrested.

“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 (SIU) has already made adverse findings on the R500 million spent on renovating the Anglo Ashanti Hospital,” Bloem said.

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He said there were indications that the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in April might 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,” said Bloem.

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