Maverick Citizen


Cable thieves plunge Mdantsane hospital into crisis mode

Cable thieves plunge Mdantsane hospital into crisis mode
Cable thieves have left the Eastern Cape’s Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, Buffalo City, in chaos. (Photo: Gallo Images / Theana Calitz)

Pregnant women needing C-sections had to be diverted to Frere Hospital, while corpses were sent to another building for refrigeration after mass cable theft at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital on Tuesday.

The theft of electricity cables at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, Buffalo City, has plunged the facility into crisis mode. 

Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson MK Ndamase said cables at the hospital were stolen and vandalised on Tuesday and the hospital had to operate with emergency electricity. 

This is the third hospital targeted by cable thieves since late December, with the other two being in Gauteng. 

“The Eastern Cape Department of Health worked around the clock to restore power. The cables that supply power to the hospital were badly vandalised, with other cables stolen. The generators on site are functional… the missing cables meant that the electricity generated by the generators could not be conducted to the various parts of the hospital,” Ndamase said.  

He said preliminary reports showed that the thieves had dug a hole underneath a fence to gain entry to the facility. 

“Mobile generators had to be deployed to the facility to operate critical areas like the adult and paediatric ICUs and the kitchen so patients could have warm food.” 

He said contractors had worked through the night and electricity was restored on Thursday afternoon.  

The theft and damage, however, resulted in pregnant women being diverted to Frere Hospital for C-sections.  

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“We are fortunate that this time there were no lives lost as a result of this thuggery because we moved with speed to ensure that a contractor was appointed to fix the cables while critical patients were moved to other hospitals,” said the MEC for Health, Nomakhosazana Meth.  

“We thank the CEO and his team for working until midnight and early this morning,” she said. 

In December 2022, the Intensive Care Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto was cut off from the medical air and oxygen supply at the hospital after the theft of a piece of copper pipe. Patients had to be evacuated to a different part of the hospital. 

Earlier in January, R3-million worth of copper piping was stolen from above an operating theatre inside the Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg.  

Meanwhile, copper cables worth R1-million were dug up from an electrical substation in Struandale in Gqeberha earlier this week. Two security guards were held at gunpoint by three men who wore reflector jackets and tied up the guards. They were joined by a further five suspects.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Cable theft plunges Nelson Mandela Bay ambulance service into crisis

Nelson Mandela Bay’s district police commissioner, Major-General Vuyisile Ncata, said halting the theft of ferrous and non-ferrous metals and essential infrastructure-related crimes remained a priority for the police. 

“This damage and theft are tantamount to economic sabotage, therefore, we will make every effort to ensure that these perpetrators are traced, arrested and convicted. We appeal to the communities to provide information on criminals who steal or interfere with and damage infrastructure,” Ncata said. DM/MC


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Hiram C Potts says:

    A complete breakdown in law, order & enforcement, at every level.
    Destruction & annihilation of State assets & infrastructure; hospitals, power stations, railway stations, the list is endless = failed state.

    When our entitled & empowered citizens see their leaders stealing state assets & getting away with it, what else can we expect?

  • John Smythe says:

    Oh well! Just another day in sunny South Africa. 🌞
    They won’t catch the thieves. They won’t prosecute them. They won’t jail them. And the sun will continue to shine on thieves again.

  • Peter Brierley says:

    Surely this is a simple crime to solve? These people are not stealing these cable to connect their fridges! They are stealing the cables to sell to scrap dealers. Post a cop at the scrap dealers. We have enough of them not doing much in the way of crime prevention anyway. Even if they don’t catch teh thieves, it will at least disrupt the activity. This is not rocket science!

    • virginia crawford says:

      Perhaps the cops receive bribes from scrap metal dealers? It’s impossible to understand how the trade and export in copper goes unhindered without top level collusion.

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