In this file picture, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and former Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku at the old AngloGold Ashanti mine hospital, which is being refurbished into a Covid-19 facility for the West Rand. Picture Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA) When the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti offered the Gauteng provincial government a hospital at the Western Deep Level Mine in the Far West Rand. A budget of R586 million was approved to rebuild the hospital to create 175 critical care beds for an expected tidal wave of Covid-19 patients.
This was to be completed by the end of July. Delays occurred because of disruption by local sub-contractors, and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating possible corruption.
Building started even though only a short-term lease was signed for the building. This lease expired on January 31, 2021 but has been extended until the donation has been formalised.
The hospital can only operate when it is fully equipped and staff have been employed, so it is unlikely that it will treat any Covid-19 patients in the near future. It is difficult to see any future rational use for it because it is not easy to access and is midway between Carletonville and Fochville.
There would have been better benefit for the West Rand if the existing hospitals had been extended and upgraded. This could have been done far more cost-effectively.
An official admitted at a meeting of the legislature’s health committee that it would have been cheaper to build a new hospital.
Premier David Makhura cannot claim ignorance of this fiasco as his entire executive council took the decision to grossly over-spend on this hospital instead of extra hospital beds in more populated areas. Not a single executive member raised any objections to this hare-brained project.
The AngloGold hospital is likely to be a white elephant, a gift that should have been refused.
Jack Bloom is the Shadow MEC for Health in Gauteng.