Pictures and videos of a mobile clinic being used to transport furniture and workshop equipment for a departmental contractor is raising eyebrows in Limpopo. The service provider has a standing contract with the department to service its ambulances, and the DA is seeking an explanation as to why the ambulance was being used as a personal moving service, instead of servicing patients, including pregnant mothers waiting for ambulances to transport them to healthcare centres for delivery. Limpopo DA Member of Parliament, Desiree van der Walt, said the party has since submitted parliamentary questions with regard to the alleged incident. She...
Pictures and videos of a mobile clinic being used to transport furniture and workshop equipment for a departmental contractor is raising eyebrows in Limpopo.

The service provider has a standing contract with the department to service its ambulances, and the DA is seeking an explanation as to why the ambulance was being used as a personal moving service, instead of servicing patients, including pregnant mothers waiting for ambulances to transport them to healthcare centres for delivery.

Limpopo DA Member of Parliament, Desiree van der Walt, said the party has since submitted parliamentary questions with regard to the alleged incident. She said the party would not sit on its laurels and watch when the department was misusing public resources to benefit its business associates.

"The contractor in question is an engineering workshop owner who has a contract to service the department's vehicles in the Greater Tzaneen municipal area. He is reported to have used the ambulance to go and collect his personal property that had previously been attached from the sheriff's storage facility," said Van der Walt in a statement.

PICS: Limpopo mobile clinic doubles up as furniture moving van

She said the party was deeply concerned that the incident took place during a time when resources such as mobile clinics were desperately needed in the province's response to Covid-19. The MP said there should be no scenario where provincial government resources meant to service the people of Mopani are used for personal errands to benefit a few.

"These actions are a blatant abuse and misuse of public resources and a total disregard for the provision of professional service in an ethical manner by the contractor. The Limpopo department of health needs to investigate this matter and take decisive action against the contractor. It should also take action in an endeavor to show that it can and is able to hold other contracts doing business with the department found at the wrong side of the law accountable," she said.

The drama comes at a time Limpopo is faced with acute Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In 2015, the department, under the leadership of MEC Phophi Ramathuba ordered 100 ambulances to beef up the existing fleet. The province is over 75 percent rural and at the time, the ratio of ambulances to patients in the province was far above the national target of one emergency vehicle per every 10 000 people.

The provincial health department's annual report had indicated that the department had one emergency vehicle for every 47 290 residents at the time. Since then, the department bought a new fleet of 60 ambulances, which were officially handed over in Sekororo, outside Hoedspruit, on 25 August 2015. The department had since committed to buy 40 more ambulances in the next financial year, to bring the total to 100.

PICS: Limpopo mobile clinic doubles up as furniture moving van

MEC Ramathuba told The Citizen yesterday that the department was trying to buy more ambulances, but failed to bridge the gap due financial constraints.

"Our primary objective is to serve the community of Limpopo with precision and distinction. We are trying our best, although somewhere somehow we are failing due to budgetary constraints. We are trying to buy ambulances every year but it is still not enough as the population is also increasing," she said.

She, however, referred other queries to the department's spokesperson, Neil Shikwabane.

Shikwambane said his department was aware of the video clip and pictures being circulated.

"We can confirm that the vehicle is our mobile clinic and was in the hands of a service provider, who is contracted by the national department to service our vehicles. The contractor has a service level agreement with the national department of health and not the provincial department. We are also taken aback by the allegations and we have since reported the matter to the national department to investigate and take action where possible," said Shikwambane.

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