About R500 million of funds meant for urgent Covid-19 beds has been wasted on the AngloGold Ashanti hospital on the far West Rand that will probably treat not a single Covid-19 patient.
Last week local DA Councillors Blackie Zwart and Alme Rowles-Zwart visited this former mine hospital which AngloGold Ashanti donated to the Gauteng Health Department to fight the Covid-19 epidemic.
They found it closed with a number of completed wards but mostly unfinished construction. The completed areas had no equipment and there was no indication that the hospital will be ready for use anytime soon.
This hospital was in reasonable condition when it was handed over, and the plan was to remodel it with 176 high care/ICU beds for acute Covid-19 cases.
But only 56 beds have been completed because of on-site strike action by contractors, and payment to the 8 contractors has been stopped pending the outcome of an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into possible corruption.
It is very unlikely that any Covid-19 patients will be treated at this hospital in the near future.
We need to know why so much money was allocated for a hospital that is doomed to be a white elephant as it is so far from major urban centres. It is also difficult to access since it is in the Western Deep Level mine midway between Carletonville and Fochville.
An official admitted at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee that it would have been cheaper to build the hospital from scratch.
This is a colossal misuse of money that could have been spent at other hospitals to assist them in treating the rapidly escalating Covid-19 cases, some of whom will need high care or ICU beds.
The DA will insist on accountability for this fiasco, and we await the outcome of the SIU investigation in this regard. We need to know who authorised it, who benefited from it, whether there was corruption, and how unauthorised money can be recouped.