Pandemonium broke out at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital on Thursday when a section of the roof collapsed, injuring five people and leaving many trapped underneath the rubble.
Several patients had to be evacuated to ensure their safety, while many panic-stricken people scrambled in the dark to get to safety.
When the roof collapsed it cut the electricity supply to some sections of the hospital.
The injured included two construction workers, two members of the public and one hospital staff member.
According to the Gauteng health department, the incident happened while private construction workers were filling in a leaking section of the roof.
Two construction workers, 26-year-old Narcisse Novella and 20-year-old Fernando Masina, said they were shaken by the incident, but did not suffer serious injuries.
“I was just moving the building materials from that place and then I felt the floor come down. I fell in with the roof. It was dark,” said Masina.
Eyewitnesses described a stampede in the dark as the fifth floor roof collapsed.
Concerns about the structural safety at the hospital were previously highlighted by Democratic Alliance Provincial Legislature member Jack Bloom.
“General maintenance has been neglected over many years. I warned years ago that the hospital was structurally unsound,” Bloom said.
According to a staff member who did not want to be named, an ongoing renovation on the sixth floor maternity ward may have been behind the roof collapse.
She said she was not surprised by the incident as several parts of the facility’s infrastructure had been in disrepair for years with roof leaks being a common feature on every floor.
Gauteng MEC for health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said only the area near the main entrance was affected.
“We want to assure the public that we share their concerns in terms of patient safety.
“The incident is confined to the main entrance of the hospital, so patients are not affected,” confirmed Ramokgopa,
At around 22:30 on Thursday night, emergency services had concluded the search and rescue operation.
“Five patients were treated and discharged, none of the affected patients required emergency operation or admission,” read a joint statement issued by the Gauteng departments of infrastructure development and health.
“After a successful search operation, nobody was found to be trapped under the rubble. The site has been cleared and the final mop-up operation is underway. All contingency plans have been put into place to ensure that the day-to-day hospital operations are not disrupted.”
Outside Charlotte Maxeke hospital