City Power has given the management of Johannesburg's Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital four hours to move critical patients to other facilities in a stand-off over unpaid power bills.
According to the entity, the hospital owes R40-million - which the Gauteng Health Department disputes - and by Thursday morning, several cars and a truck from City Power were parked inside the hospital premises.
A City Power official, who could not be named, told News24 they met with the management on Thursday morning.
"We have informed them that we are giving them a few hours to vacate critical patients to other facilities. We will return after four hours to continue with the process of cutting electricity," she said.
The hospital has until 15:00 to move the critical patients to other facilities.
Meanwhile, Gauteng Health Department said it had engagements with the City of Johannesburg and City Power, but the negotiations came to nought.
This week, City Power announced that four other hospitals in Johannesburg also owed it millions of rands.
The hospitals are Helen Joseph Hospital, which owes R13-million; Rahima Moosa Hospital (R4-million); South Rand Hospital (R3-million); and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (R2.6-million), City Power claimed.
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said Charlotte Maxeke Hospital had been sitting with the R40-million debt for a long time.
"We have engaged with the department, and they just continue to pay their monthly R6-million. We have even engaged with the provincial government as we tried to avoid the process of cutting electricity," he said.
Mangena said last month, the entity visited Helen Joseph Hospital - which had an outstanding bill of R26-million - and the facility only paid half of the amount.
Gauteng Health spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said they acknowledged the importance of settling financial obligations to ensure uninterrupted provision of services by municipalities.
"The department has an obligation like any consumer of municipal services to ensure that where there are discrepancies in the billing, owing to one reason to another, these get verified before any payment can be processed.
"Six invoices amounting to more than R32-million were paid to the City of Johannesburg from April to September this year towards the settlement of R40-million debt. An additional invoice of R4.9-million has been finalised for payment this week, and the last invoice of R5.2-million is currently being processed for a purchase order to be created before the money is released."
He said the amounts excluded interest raised as the department believes it has been raised on invoices that have long been settled, leading to incorrect amounts being claimed. He said other payments made to other hospitals had yet to be updated on the City's records.
Modiba said City Power incorrectly attributed a debt of R47-million to Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital instead of the Transvaal Memorial Institute, which used to house the erstwhile Children's Memorial Hospital.
"The institute houses several NGOs that are not related to the department, except for the laundry services and a boiler house servicing Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, which is in the same yard as the institute," he said.
He said the amounts already paid to the City of Johannesburg continued to incur interest on the City's records, which the department disputed.