The causes of the Charlotte Maxeke roof collapse – Gauteng Govt

Report finds that overloading was caused by the stockpiling of crushed stone on roof above entrance foyer

Gauteng Provincial Government  releases findings of investigation into Charlotte Maxeke roof collapse 

31 May 2017

The MEC of Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo,  received the report that he commissioned immediately after the roof collapse incident at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. The report, prepared by Adams & Adams attorneys, assisted by engineering firm Aurecon, contains an assessment of the cause of the incident as well as legal advice on who should be held liable for the damages caused.

The roof collapsed whilst contractors were executing a waterproofing contract as part of the maintenance program at the hospital.

The technical aspects of the investigation were conducted by Aurecon South Africa (Pty) Ltd (“Aurecon”), who found that:

- The Charlotte Maxeke Hospital was designed and constructed to a high standard. The primary steelwork is galvanized and is, after 40 years, still in excellent condition;

- The roof over the entrance foyer of the hospital collapsed as a result of severe overloading. Although the extent of the overloading cannot be precisely determined, the weight placed on the roof greatly exceeded its design capacity;

- The overloading was caused by the stockpiling of crushed stone. The crushed stone was moved to the roof as part of the execution of the waterproofing contract and is specifically provided for in the project specification. The intention was for the crushed stone to be removed from the platform roofs, as the new waterproofing was not going to be covered by crushed stone.   Regrettably, the crushed stone was stockpiled (instead of taken off the roof through a chute that had been erected for that purpose) on the roof above the entrance foyer of the hospital. The excessive load created as a result caused the roof to collapse. 

The MEC has taken note of the legal advice contained in the report, that it was the contractor’s responsibility to ensure that the project was executed safely and without causing any harm or damage to property.

The damage caused to the hospital and the persons that were injured as a result of the incident is viewed in a very serious light and the MEC will ensure that all the necessary steps are taken to hold those that are responsible fully liable. The MEC has instructed the legal department to commence the necessary processes as soon as possible.

The unfortunate incident has also emphasised the need to review and improve the processes which lead to the appointment of contractors to perform work for the department. This review by the MEC commenced well before the incident at Charlotte Maxeke and will be concluded as a matter of urgency.

The MEC has received preliminary briefings on potential areas of improvement and will announce an action plan in this regard in the near future. Amongst the areas that will be addressed are:

- The skill and expertise of contractors that are appointed for specific projects;

- Ensuring that contractors that do not meet the quality of work standards of the department are held accountable;

- Ensuring that the prices paid for work are market related and competitive.

The MEC will keep the public informed on the progress made.

Issued by Theo Nkonki, Spokesperson, Gauteng Department of Infrastructure, 31 May 2017