Wits dental students raise fears over fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

They were complaining about poor ventilation, no emergency exits and deteriorating structural integrity at the facility.

FILE: The Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Dental students at Wits University said that they risked their lives entering the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital for training.

Students said the facility was debilitating and that they were fully reliant on the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital as the only training facility.

They were complaining about poor ventilation, no emergency exits and deteriorating structural integrity.

“We are more in danger inhaling the air on a regular working day in those facilities as students than we are at contracting COVID-19. Now we expect this contained with these facilities on numerous occasions and predating the fire incident at Charlotte Maxeke. Had the fire reached people and students in it, we would have had all died inside, we would all burned down with the facility,” said Lisa Sibaca, Dental Student Council leader.

But Dean of Health Sciences at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, said that it was not the university's responsibility to make sure the building was up to standard, but that of the provincial government.

“It doesn't matter dismiss the need for the university to ensure that the facility is actually adequately equipped. The university did not claim for the fire in Charlotte. The dental facility itself at Charlotte is run separately, by a separate management team, it's considered a separate entity. It is the responsibility of the province and not the university to make sure that the facility is up and running,” he said.

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