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By Hein Kaiser


Memorial held for healthcare workers killed in gas explosion

Gauteng Health pledges R4 billion to restore Tambo Memorial Hospital after gas explosion tragedy. Residents remain cynical it will happen.

The Gauteng department of health has pledged R4 billion to restore the crumbling Tambo Memorial Hospital in Ekurhuleni.

The announcement was made at the unveiling of a memorial in honour of the 12 healthcare workers who lost their lives in the Boksburg gas explosion on Christmas Eve last year.

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The Gauteng MEC for health and wellness, Nomantu NkomoRalehoko unveiled the memorial yesterday. It is erected in the parking area closest to the bridge where a gas tanker became stuck and later exploded, killing hospital staffers, among others.

“The memories of that day are permanently engraved in your minds. The chaos, the sound of the explosion, and the realisation of the ensuing fire, these moments were beyond anything we could have ever imagined,” said Nkomo-Ralehoko.

“Witnessing our hospital, a place of lifesaving and care, was a painful sight, one that will never be forgotten,” she added.

Also at the event were members of the Ekurhuleni chaplaincy who were among the first responders on the day of the incident, along with hospital staff and departmental officials.

Conspicuous by their absences Memorial for healthcare workers killed in gas explosion wall of remembrance were Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi and former Democratic Alliance (DA) Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell.

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The only DA councillor from Ekurhuleni who attended the event was Simon Lapping. He shared his cynicism about the event and the promises of a revamp, ostensibly in memory of the deceased healthcare workers.

“A R4 billion kitty to revamp Tambo Memorial, a regional hospital, is ridiculous,” he said. “Will they be installing gold-plated taps and Waterford crystal chandeliers?” he asked.

He suggested that this commitment was merely political grandstanding and just another promise by Lesufi’s provincial Cabinet.

While some damage was incurred to the structure and equipment during the blast, the facility has been in desperate need of a makeover for some time.

The Saturday Citizen reported on the dire state of the facility twice earlier last year.

In her address, Nkomo-Ralehoko said the hospital was named after struggle hero Oliver Tambo because the values he stood for was what the department sought to embody.

“As we unveil this wall, we extend that same honour to our colleagues. Their names and memories will be etched not only on this wall but in the ethos of Tambo Memorial Hospital, serving as a constant inspiration to all who walk these halls,” she said.

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Some residents who attended the event said promises about repairs to homes, financial assistance and the like were never fulfilled by the province.

Ironically, diagonally across the road from the new memorial, a home with what remains of a burnt-out stoep overlooks the area where more than 40 people lost their lives last year.

“This memorial wall is not just a symbol of remembrance, it is a beacon of hope, reminding us that even in our darkest times, we can find light in the support and compassion of those around us.”

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