Copper pipe theft puts patients lives at risk at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital

The lives of patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) were put at risk after criminals stole copper pipes supplying oxygen to the wards.

It us understood clinicians discovered the flow of oxygen was slower than normal on Monday.

Patients in ICU at risk

The criminals cut and stole a 10-metre copper pipe which supplies oxygen to various sections of the main Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

“Clinicians reported the matter to the Department of Infrastructure Development who are responsible for the plant room where the stolen pipe runs. This led to the discovery that the oxygen supply pipe was tampered with.”

Arrest criminals

Ralehoko has called for the police to leave no stone unturned to bring to book criminals who put patients’ lives at risk.

She said a case has since been opened with the Diepkloof SAPS.

“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.”

“Fortunately, the patients were immediately evacuated to another ward where ventilation was continued. A contractor was immediately called on site and the copper pipe has since been replaced. The process to move patients back into the main ICU will commence on Wednesday, 21 December 2022,” she said.

ALSO READ: Gauteng health identifies ‘hotzones’ as EMS come under attack

EMS attacks

Meanwhile, the Gauteng Department of Health has raised concerns about the continuous attacks and robberies of health officials in the province while in the line of duty, as the country heads into the festive period and the new year.

This comes after members of the Gauteng Emergency Medical Services (EMS) from Odi District Hospital in Tshwane as well as patients were robbed of their belongings including medical equipment.


The latest attacks bring to 14 the number of incidents to date, in 2022 alone, the department said.

“In the meantime, a number of areas in the province have been declared hotspots or red zones as they are deemed unsafe for emergency personnel.”

“EMS crews will only enter those areas accompanied by law enforcement agencies or by security personnel,” the department said.

ALSO READ: ‘Nationalising SA healthcare system is the answer to its problems’ – Numsa





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