1 Mil refurbishment shows what can be done – Marais


Renovations and refurbishment to part of the national defence force’s flagship military medical unit – 1 Military Hospital – prove “if the will is there and funding is effectively channelled the right outcome will be reached”.

That was the positive component from Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarian Kobus Marais following a Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) and Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) oversight visit to the hospital on the northern side of Thaba Tshwane.

“The renovation work done on the hospital’s seventh floor is impressive and it can now accommodate and properly care for patients with high care needs, including COVID-19 and intensive care,” he told defenceWeb, adding there was “sadly a flipside”.

“The rest of 1 Mil remains basically the same as what it was during an oversight visit in a previous parliamentary term,” Marais said, picking out the first floor where the hospital’s five operating theatres “must be accommodated” as an example.

“Walls have been broken down, but other than that there’s no progress.”

He is also critical of the hospital pharmacy saying “it, as an all-important component of the hospital” has seen no progress. “A few walls broken down and others either covered or replaced by drywall appears to be all achieved to date.”

Marais noted the apparently ordered high-tech and state-of-the-art equipment has “obviously” not arrived.

He and some co-committee colleagues agree the “impasse” with Minister Patricia De Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is a major contributor to 1 Mil not receiving the attention it should.

In the future, the Defence Works Formation (DWF) plans for total facility management of military hospitals as it takes over responsibilities from the DPWI.

Marais and other committee members last month “called” on several SA National Defence Force (SANDF) installations. They were AFB Waterkloof in Centurion, 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane and 4 Vehicle Reserve Park at Wallmannsthal, north of Pretoria. They also visited three border sites (Beit Bridge, Komatipoort and Kosi Bay).