South Africa: A Litany of Alleged Failures Leaves Johannesburg's Crucial Hospital Shuttered


The response to the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, the second-largest tertiary hospital in the Southern Hemisphere, has been hailed as a collaborative effort between public and private actors that saved lives and limited damage to property. But it's raised questions about the City of Johannesburg's ability to respond to fires and whether state institutions are prepared for such emergencies.

"As far as cooperation was concerned, we couldn't have asked for a better day," said Wynand Engelbrecht on the response to the fire that broke out at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital on Friday, 16 April.

Engelbrecht worked as the City of Johannesburg's fire chief in Midrand and also served as a former force commander in Sandton. Three years ago, he launched Fire Ops, a small private firefighting brigade that operates in a number of Johannesburg areas.

Fire Ops leaders heard of the fire at Charlotte Maxeke on social media and sent three of their vehicles, which are smaller than the usual fire engine but have high-tech equipment, to help.

Engelbrecht has become somewhat of a media go-to on Joburg fires, and in interviews, he has hailed the city's "sterling work" at the hospital. The fire at Charlotte Maxeke saw...

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