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Abandoned hospital was 'underutilised'

The Kempton Park Hospital has been left to slide into decay since its closure in 1997.

Security guards are paid monthly to look after the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital with taxpayers’ money. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu says a decision to either reopen or demolish the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital will be made later this year.

Eyewitness News visited the once prestigious facility, which shut its doors in 1997 with millions of rands worth of equipment locked inside, most of which has been stolen or is now broken and outdated.

While the province's ailing health system continues to be in the spotlight, the abandoned facility now serves no purpose.

But millions are being spent on security to guard the building.

Mahlangu says the hospital was shut down because it was underutilised.

"You will be aware that there was a time where we had an oversupply of health facilities for one reason or the other - that's when the facility was closed down. But now, coming back to where we are in 2014, we definitely need those facilities."

But the Democratic Alliance's Jack Bloom says the decision to close the hospital was a bad one.

"They said that these hospitals were underutilised. I think that's a very big mistake because we've seen a growth in the population and these hospitals are vitally necessary."

Today, there's not much left inside the hospital, with most of the equipment stolen over the years.

There's no electricity, the rooms are empty, the ceilings have been ripped out, there are broken windows and doors and thousands of confidential patient files litter the floors.

Security guards are paid monthly to look after the abandoned building, with taxpayers' money that some believe could be better used to help other hospitals in desperate need of equipment

Guards say about 50 people arrive there on Friday and Saturday nights to look for ghosts, believing the hospital is haunted. For a fee, they will guide curious members of the public through the hospital.

Empty surgical theatres and broken X-ray machines lend an eerie air to this once prestigious facility.