At least five people were confirmed injured when a section of the roof at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, in Parktown, Johannesburg, collapsed on Thursday afternoon while construction work to fix leaks was ongoing. "Rescue workers are busy on the scene at the moment trying to ascertain their safety".

It was not immediately clear what caused the roof to cave in or how many people were trapped or injured.

State hospitals in South Africa have been struggling with persistent underfunding for staff, equipment and facilities.

Five people are believed to have sustained minor injuries when the roof over the foyer of the hospital caved in on Thursday afternoon.

Shocking pictures show witnesses frantically digging at the rubble with their bare hands. "I'm lost for words", she said.

Co-operative governance MEC Jacob Mamabolo, who is responsible for infrastructure, blamed the roof's collapse on shoddy workmanship by contractors waterproofing the roof.

According to Johannesburg EMS spokesperson, Nana Radebe, one person was removed from the rubble and taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

Stones had been moved onto the section of roof that later collapsed, said Jack Bloom, a member of the Democratic Alliance, an opposition party.

More emergency services are still arriving. "Because of the weight it basically overweighted the roof and then it collapsed‚" he said.

The hospital, in Johannesburg's Parktown suburb, has a capacity of over 1,000 beds and is one of the city's major hospitals.