Calls for attempted murder charges after theft of oxygen supply pipe at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
‘The people who stole the copper pipe … intentionally put the lives of 24 patients at risk, 19 of whom were on life support and depended on access to oxygen through artificial ventilation,” said Gauteng MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko
The Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, has urged police to spare no effort in their attempts to find those who put Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital patients’ lives at risk.
This was after the theft on Monday of a 10m copper pipe which supplies oxygen to the main Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital.
“The people who stole the copper pipe should not just be charged with theft but also with attempted murder. They intentionally put the lives of 24 patients at risk, 19 of whom were on life support and depended on access to oxygen through artificial ventilation,” said Nkomo-Ralehoko.
A statement issued by the Gauteng Department of Health on Tuesday stated that clinicians at the facility noticed the flow of oxygen was lower than normal and reported it to the Department of Infrastructure Development, which is responsible for the plant room from where the stolen pipe runs. This led to the discovery that the oxygen supply pipe had been tampered with.
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Patients in the unit were immediately evacuated to another ward, where they continued receiving oxygen. A contractor was called, and the copper pipe was replaced.
A case was opened on Tuesday afternoon with Diepkloof SAPS, confirmed police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza. “We have opened a theft charge,” she added.
The process of moving patients back into the main ICU will commence on Wednesday, 21 December, according to the statement.
Health department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the National Department of Health had been informed of this “life-threatening incident, which is tantamount to [the] attempted murder of innocent and vulnerable patients”.
“We appeal to communities to join hands with the law enforcement agencies and our authorities across the country to enable our health workers to perform their duties, and patients to receive much-needed services at a safer place,” he added.
Phumelele Khumalo, the spokesperson for the hospital, had not responded to questions by the time of publication. DM/MC