Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa says emergency teams are still assessing whether anyone is still trapped under rubble after a section of roof near the entrance to Charlotte Maxeke hospital collapsed early on Thursday afternoon.

Addressing a crowd of journalists, Ramokgopa confirmed that contractors had been sealing a portion of the leaky roof when a section of it caved in, injuring at least five people.

“Because of heavy debris, an area that was not reinforced fell in,” she said. “We are doing everything possible to clear the site as quickly and as safely as we can.” 

Ramokgopa said the people hurt were two private construction workers, two patients and one hospital employee.

“All of them are not in a critical condition, but we are also busy contacting their families,” she said.

The department said in a statement that the collapse would not affect the safety of more than 1 000 patients because the section of the roof affected is confined to the main entrance of the hospital.

The roof collapse is part of Ramokgopa’s baptism by fire as health MEC. She took office in early February following the resignation of her predecessor, Qedani Mahlangu. Mahlangu resigned the night before the release of a damning report by health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba that blamed her and the health department for the deaths of more than 100 psychiatric patients.

Charlotte Maxeke Academic HospitalCharlotte MaxekeGwen Ramokgopa