The History of the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital

The Story

Over 17 years ago there once stood a thriving hospital deep in the heart of Johannesburg.  The Kempton Park / Kyalami Hospital was built and officially opened in 1978 under the former Transvaal Provincial Hospital.  The hospital is situated in Birchleigh, Kempton Park, within a residential suburb.

 

At that time the hospital rendered only level 1 services.   In the East Rand suburb of Kempton Park, the hospital (later changed to the Kyalami Hospital) was once quoted as being:”one of the best medical facilities in the country”.  For reasons unknown, the hospital simply closed its doors on the day after Christmas in 1996.  Nowadays though, it has become more than just a vacant and dilapidated building; intrepid “ghost hunters” and rebellious teenagers often visit the premises during the darkest hours of the night in search of the paranormal.

 

Walking through the corridors we found it hard to imagine that this neglected building was once a safe haven for the sick that were nursed back to health by very competent medical staff.   The hallways are crowded with unoccupied hospital beds, operating tables, incubators, filing cabinets and computers.  To safeguard these equipment (with an estimated worth of over R10 million) local government had to hire security guards which would ultimately cost the tax-payer around R1 million per annum.  Some curious teenagers who have visited the hospital claim that one could easily perform surgery using the available equipment, providing you had a body.   Others were able to go through the file cabinets and find the exact dates and theatres they were born in many years ago.

 

 “When the hospital closed down all the equipment was still in perfect working condition,”

Dr Hennie Roelofse, a pediatrician who once worked at the Kyalami hospital for 16 years

 

The abandoned beds alone are worth R1,6 million and would sell for about R2 000 each, according to a local medical firm.  Nine theatres inside the hospital were fitted with operating lights (each costs around R15 000-new-).  These lights could have been removed and serviced and be placed elsewhere in nearby hospitals in need of equipment.  Even X-ray machines and CAT scanners were simply switched off and left to decay.  These machines in turn, costs around R2 million and R5 million respectively.  An ultrasound machine found on one of the floors is has as estimated value of over R500 000.  The abovementioned machines all have a lifespan of about 10 years and are now rendered obsolete.   Furthermore, the over 400 incubators left there could have been well utilized by other hospitals who are in dire need.  In some rural areas it has been reported that some babies have to be cared for in cardboard boxes due to the lack of incubators.  Why were they just left there?

 

Since its closing the Kempton Park Hospital has been surrounded by controversy.  In December 1996 the Gauteng Department of Health said no new patients would be admitted due to an acute staff shortage but denied it was closing the hospital.  It was shut down a few weeks later.  Although the exact reason why it closed down 17 years ago is tough to come by, it has been reported that the mayor and health MEC of Johannesburg at the time (1996) Amos Masondo, closed the hospital because of its “limited utilization” and “inappropriate location”.  This stands in stark contrast to nearby hospitals all of whom claim to be “under heavy load” even prior to Kempton Park Hospital’s closing.

 

Unfortunately Tender wars prohibited any progress to re-open Kempton Park Hospital.  Brought upon by a change of heart, the Gauteng Provincial Government put out a tender in 2006 for the creation of a “self-sustainable medical centre that would be a private hospital and also treat a certain percentage of low-income patients”.  This slewed on for nearly 3 years whereby many head officials who partook of the tender processes, were accused of meddling.  No agreement could be made about the duration of lease-agreements either and even Chinese consortiums were involved.

 

It was reported in the Mail & Guardian Online (August 23, 2009) that after 12 years the Gauteng government again set out tenders to refurbish the hospital.  The health department issued a statement saying it is planning to relaunch the Kempton Park Hospital as Kyalami Hospital as South-Africa’s first “Folateng-model” hospital — a private institution run by the state.  It would primarily cater for patients on medical aid schemes and have about 270 beds.  The Health department tried to conduct a feasibility study that year aiming to include the hospital in its budget for 2010-2011.  The study was concluded with findings that showed it would cost R350m just to reopen it as a 210-bed private facility.

 

New plans to refurbish the Kempton Park Hospital and turn it into a Folateng Hospital started in June of 2012 and will officially commence in March of 2013.  It will reopen at a cost of R400 million.  The official date of reopening is July 31, 2015.

 

“It’s good news that money has been allocated to refurbish this hospital but it remains to be seen whether deadlines are adhered to.”

Mr. Jack Bloom, DA leader in the Gauteng Legislature

 

 

Kempton Park Hospital is also haunted by its own ghosts:

A twist in the tale of the Kempton Park (Kyalami) Hospital

The previously untold story of the unqualified doctor

 

Team TPi is dedicated to not only researching and investigating a specific location for possible haunting; we also dig a little deeper to find the true history behind our locations.  This case was no different and we stumbled upon a very interesting story.  This information is previously unpublished online, apart from the newspapers’ archives.

 

One would assume that the medical practitioners examining you are qualified and properly trained individuals.  Unfortunately Kempton Park Hospital is hiding a horrific secret.

 

During the years of December 1982 and February 1990, Dr. Andre’ Johannes Esterhuizen (at the time 40 years old in 1991) admitted in a written statement that he did not possess the required knowledge, experience, training and skills which are expected of a qualified doctor.   For 8 years this man purposefully betrayed the trust of numerous families by claiming he is a registered and qualified medical practitioner, possessing only a standard 8 High School certificate.  During this period he came into contact with over 4,500 patients, most of whom were babies.  He continued his work as doctor under the false pretences of a qualified pediatrician.

 

Had it not been for a very brave woman in the year 1991 that came forward to question the abilities of “Dr” Esterhuizen, he would have been able to continue his “work” as pediatrician.  After numerous other doctors examined countless medical reports and diagnosis, they became suspect of foul play.  Andre’ Esterhuizen was sued by Mrs. June Veal on accounts of medical malpractice.  She cried uncontrollably in court when she testified how her 3 month old baby boy, Gareth, started foaming at the mouth with his lips turning blue before he stopped breathing.

 

Among Dr. Andre’ Esterhuizen’s victims were:

Gareth Veal, 3 month old baby boy, 4-10 September 1988

Gareth was taken to hospital by his mother Mrs. June Veal when he showed symptoms of flu.  His condition worsened and by 12 ‘o clock he was partially comatose.  The diagnosis was meningitis and was placed under the care of Dr. Esterhuizen.  The baby was in excruciating pain and suffered from cramps and his left eye was swollen shut.  On the night of 7 September 1988, he stopped breathing.  A nurse administered oxygen to him while they frantically tried the get hold of Dr. Esterhuizen.  No less than 45 minutes later, he arrived at the hospital.  Mr. Veal grabbed Dr. Esterhuizen and demanded an explanation for taking such a long time to get to the hospital during this emergency.  Dr. Esterhuizen said that the medication was wrong and that he was going to change it.  Gareth was put under high dosage sedation.  “This made the baby very sleepy and he refused to drink”, said Mrs. Veal, “I begged Dr. Esterhuizen to move Gareth to another hospital, but Dr. Esterhuizen said he had everything under control”.  On Friday baby Gareth suffered a fit.   Dr. Esterhuizen said he would call a neurosurgeon from Johannesburg to help treat the baby.  The neurosurgeon found the baby was too heavily sedated.  When confronted about the fact that his condition was not improving Dr. Andre’ simply said:”I don’t know what to do anymore”.  Baby Gareth was taken per ambulance to Sandton-Clinic where he sadly passed away on the 11th of September 1988.  Dr. Esterhuizen admitted that he prescribed the medication “Indocid” (rectal suppository) and that the overdose was directly responsible for his death.

 

Chantelle Sharples, 7 month old baby girl, 15-17 August 1988

Dr. Esterhuizen treated the baby for pneumonia and prescribed an overdose of the rectal suppository “Indocid”.  He admitted that the dosage was in fact an overdose and that it was directly responsible for her death.

 

Benjamin Wessels, 8 weeks old baby boy, 25 August 1988

Baby Benjamin was treated for respiratory problems which arose after he underwent surgery to treat a hernia.  Dr. Esterhuizen failed to administer proper intensive care procedures on the baby and admitted that this negligence was the cause of baby Benjamin’s death.

 

Rentia Venter, born 14 April 1988

Mrs. Emmarentia Venter testified that her daughter was diagnosed with meningitis by a doctor in Pretoria before being referred to “Dr.” Esterhuizen at Kempton Park Hospital.  He confirmed the diagnosis and baby Venter was admitted and placed in an oxygen tent.  After struggling to find a vein Dr. Esterhiuzen proceeded to make a small incision on Rentia’s chest to insert a drip.  Later, her tiny little lungs collapsed.  2 Days later Dr. Esterhuizen reportedly diagnosed her with kidney failure and recommended they transfer her to Johannesburg Hospital.  Once there, it was discovered that baby Rentia suffered brain damage.  After some time she recovered and was released.  Numerous accounts followed where Rentia became ill, was taken to a doctor and then referred to “Dr.” Andre’ and placed under his care.  The last time she was admitted, Dr. Esterhuizen again attached a drip and transferred her to Johannesburg Hospital where she later passed away on the same day due to acute kidney failure.

 

Jade Walters, born 17 October 1988

Baby Jade was born in Kempton Park Hospital on the 17th of October.  4 months later she became ill and was treated in the same hospital by none other than Dr. Andre’ Esterhuizen.  She was diagnosed with meningitis and underwent a lumbar punch by Dr. Esterhuizen.  The medication Dr. Esterhuizen prescribed was changed 2 days later due her rapidly deteriorating condition.  He admitted telling Mrs. Jennifer Walters that the medication “might not be correct”.  2 days later brain hemorrhaging was discovered and the doctor proceeded with 2 more lumbar punches and was sent for a brain scan.  Even more lumbar punches were performed; 2 on her back and one on her head.  After the final brain scan Dr. Esterhuizen reported to the family that Jade had suffered severe brain damage.  She is currently in care facility in Kempton Park for those suffering from cerebral palsy.

 

Triangle Paranormal Investigators would like to express their sincere condolences toward the families who have been affected by Andre’ Esterhuizen.

 

Andre’ Esterhuizen was arrested on 15 March 1991 in his hometown of Morningside, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.  He immediately applied for bail but was denied.  On June the 5th his second application was also denied.  Initially Mr. Esterhuizen plead not guilty on all charges, among those were: culpable homicide, medical negligence, assault with the intention of grievous bodily harm, sodomy, forgery and fraud.  Mr. Kobus Redelinghuys, a clinical psychologist reported that “Dr.” Andre’ Esterhuizen had an IQ of 123 and can be considered  “mentally gifted”.  He also stated that he suffered from low self esteem and had a personality similar to that of an introvert.  Although he failed std. 9 (grade 11) in High-school due to loss of interest he went on to memorize a vast number of medical books which he ultimately utilized during the diagnoses and treatment of patients.  A man pretending to be a doctor, specializing as a pediatrician, with nothing more than a std.8 certificate.

 

With his gray suit, shiny shoes, blue pinstripe shirt and red tie underneath his white jersey Mr. Andre’ Esterhuizen appeared tired and pale in court.  Judge Van der Watt asked Esterhuizen whether or not he think he has a chance of being found not-guilty due to pleading innocent on all charges, whereby Esterhuizen paused for a while and said with a smile:” That is a very difficult question to answer, your honor.”

 

 “If I am sent to prison, I will proceed to travel the narrowest of roads.  If I have some time left to spare, I will study medicine.

Andre’ Johannes Esterhuizen.

 

Mr. Andre’ Esterhuizen was found guilty on 2 charges of fraud, 3 of assault, more than 10 of culpable homicide; and was sentenced to 18 years effective imprisonment for a total of a 25 year sentence.

 

Information gathered from Beeld newspaper’s archives during 1991-1992

http://152.111.1.88/argief/berigte/beeld/1992/05/20/2/4.html

 

The Investigation

When we conducted our investigation in January 2013, almost all of the hospital’s equipment was removed (including non-electrical; beds, trolleys, wheelchairs).  We arrived at around 9PM on the 9th of January.  It was a moonless and clear night with no wind.  R50 per person allows you to pass the 2 security guards at the gate.  One guard accompanied us to the mortuary and went back to his post.  The hospital was filled with debris as a result of remodeling and was still littered with empty pizza boxes, beer bottles and numerous “graffiti” spray-painted on the walls.  We were unable to find a blueprint for the hospital so we had to rely on instinct to make our way through the dark corridors.  We spent a total of about 5 hours at the premises before heading back to analyze the footage.  Although we were unable to cover the entire hospital, we were able to encounter some pretty strange things.  Oddly enough, we didn’t capture many “orbs”.  On this specific investigation we were lucky enough to capture the bulk of our paranormal findings on video and audio.  Apart from one door slamming shut in the absence of wind, we heard no strange voices or footsteps as many have claimed.  Neither did we see anything out of the ordinary with our naked eyes while conducting the investigation.  The eerie feeling of “being watched” most certainly accompanied all of us but this is understandable.  With the hospital being so incredibly dark one can’t help but feel somewhat claustrophobic at timesSome rooms lay scattered with confidential patient files dating back to 1989 and earlier which we found interesting to read some of the details.

 

Findings

We noticed some camera interference in one the theatres and the same interference occurred while we were taking photos with one of our flash cameras.  These cameras are always trustworthy and never show any signs of malfunction, except inside the hospital (this might be a sign of a paranormal occurrence such as spirits in very close proximity to the equipment).   3 EVP’s were caught not by our digital voice recorder, but by our Sony Video Camera.  Our voice recorder captured yet another EVP.  One “Orb” [simplest form of spirit manifestation by means of a light sphere] was caught fleeting by our video camera while we ventured around in the children’s ward.  In total, we captured 4 full-bodied apparitions.  When we analyzed the EVP’s [electronic voice phenomena] we discovered that what we were dealing with is called, an “intelligent haunting”.  These hauntings are characterized by what seems to be “intelligent” interactions by spirits who are able to notice human beings in their surroundings and therefore communicate intelligently by answering specific questions.  The most noticeable (and audible) event was a door that slammed shut as we were exiting a floor via the fire escape on the side of the hospital.

Pics

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Video

Conclusion

We spent a total of about 5 hours investigating Kempton Park Hospital.  During that time we found compelling evidence of paranormal activity.  The number of EVP’s we managed to capture, the apparitions caught on camera and door slamming shut, is proof that the old Hospital does indeed play host to wandering souls.   We can just wonder what could have happened had we stayed longer…  All we know is, we want to go back.

Kempton Park Hospital

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Location

GPS co-ordinates: -26.072897,28.216059

Elgin Road|Miervreter Street, Birchleigh, Kempton Park, Gauteng, South-Africa

Kempton Park Hospital

Image taken from Google Maps