The Royal Imperial Hospital, Baragwanath, was built in what today is Diepkloof in 1941 for convalescing British and Commonwealth soldiers. John Albert Baragwanath owned a hostel, The Wayside Inn, from the late 19th century near the hospital's current location . Field Marshal Jan Smuts noted during the opening ceremonies that the facility would be used for the area's black population after the war. In 1947 King George VI visited and presented medals to the troops there. From this start grew Baragwanath Hospital (as it became known after 1948), reputedly the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere. In 1997 another name change followed, with the sprawling facility now known as Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in honour of the South African Communist Party leader who was assassinated in 1993 by extremists.
The name Baragwanath is of Gaelic origin, meaning "wheaten bread."
More than two thousand patients check into the hospital's specialised clinics and out-patient departments daily, from catchment areas as far as Klerksdorp. Nearly half of them are HIV positive.