Eastern Cape abandons scooter ambulance project

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After months of controversy, allegations and serious findings by the Special Investigating Unit against the former MEC for Health and the former superintendent-general, Eastern Cape Health has decided to abandon its scooter project, reports Daily Maverick.

A case of fraud and corruption was opened in Bhisho on 8 September 2020. The case was later handed over to the Eastern Cape Hawks, but no arrests have been made.

“We have taken a decision not to oppose the SIU who were applying to have the tender cancelled,” department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said.

The owner of Fabkomp, Brian Harmse, said he too had decided to abide by the decision of the Special Tribunal, but filed an affidavit to respond to allegations made against him by the SIU.

DM reports that in June 2020, using funds that had been earmarked for the fight against COVID-19, the Eastern Cape Health Department launched its medical scooter project in East London with great fanfare. The activities of the launch included taking former Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize for test drives on a motorcycle with a sidecar that had been converted into an ambulance.

Spokesperson for the Special Tribunal Selby Mokgotho said Judge Lebogang Modiba was still writing her judgment, but that all parties had filed notices that they were withdrawing their opposition and would abide by the ruling of the tribunal.

DM reports that chairperson of the health committee in the Eastern Cape Legislature Mxolisi Dimaza said as a committee, it also advised that the tender should be cancelled. He said the committee’s report had highlighted how the department contravened the provincial government’s policy that vehicles had to be procured by the Transport Department.

He said there was “lots of room” for a scooter programme to deliver medicine in areas where roads were very bad or hard to reach. “But they must follow the right processes. This wasn’t urgent. There was no need to deviate from the procurement processes. Also, you need capable drivers before you buy scooters,” Dimaza said.

 

Full Daily Maverick report (Open access)

 

See also MedicalBrief archives:

Public Protector: EC Health followed improper procurement process in scooter saga

EC controversy over motorbike ambulances and clinics

SIU’s scooter report ‘shocking and defamatory’ — Health MEC

SIU Tribunal: Health MEC must answer over scooter saga

EC to continue with controversial scooter project


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