By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
The future of the historic Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital is uncertain, as Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu said yesterday that discussions were ongoing with the developers of a proposed massive new housing scheme in the area, as well as with the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
Replying to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, Mahlangu admitted that COGTA had not consulted with her department when the contract was awarded in January 2012 to the Equisent Infrastructure Development consortium to develop the Rietfontein site which is bordered by Edenvale and the Johannesburg suburbs of Linksfield and Sandringham.
I am astonished that plans went ahead for a major development, including 8000 proposed residential units, with no consultation about the future of the hospital.
Furthermore, there is huge controversy over heritage and environmental issues in this area, including graves where victims of anthrax and other diseases were buried.
The hospital building is a National Monument that is over 100 years old. It has a colourful history, including patients like Archbishop Desmond Tutu who was treated there for TB as a child.
While Mahlangu has previously said that there were no plans to move Sizwe hospital, the developers of the site have said at public meetings that the hospital will be relocated to a site near the Edenvale Hospital.
Meanwhile, much money has been spent recently on renovating wards at the Sizwe Hospital.
The lack of consultation between provincial government departments adds to suspicions that this is a dodgy deal to make money for developers who have political connections, at the expense of local residents.
It’s a bad idea to move this historic hospital which plays a vital role in treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
I will assist local residents to ensure that there is a proper evaluation of this project with no underhand deals.