Maverick Citizen: Eastern Cape

Special Tribunal orders that ‘ambulance’ scooter tender be halted pending review

Special Tribunal orders that ‘ambulance’ scooter tender be halted pending review

Judge Lebogang Modiba, presiding at a hearing of the Special Tribunal, on Friday issued an interdict halting the implementation of the Eastern Cape health department's R10-million scooter tender pending an application by the Special Investigating Unit to have the tender reviewed and set aside.

At a sitting of the Special Tribunal this morning, advocate Selby Makgotho said they had received no papers from either Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, superintendent-general Thobile Mbengashe or the department’s chief financial officer, Msulwa Daca. However, in their correspondence to him they indicated that they were not opposing the granting of an interdict.

He said the winning contractor, Fabkomp, initially filed a notice to oppose the application but subsequently withdrew their opposition.

A R10-million contract to build mobile clinics for the Eastern Cape health department was awarded to Fabkomp in May this year. According to a document released by the provincial treasury, the contract was to be funded by money earmarked for the provincial Covid-19 response.

It later emerged that the project would only be rolled out over the next few years.

At the launch of the scooters, attended by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhizen, the department took Mkhize for a ride in the wrong vehicle. These vehicles were ambulances that were intended for Kenya. 

Mkhize later said the ambulance scooters did not comply with standards set for emergency vehicles. The Eastern Cape health department then backtracked, saying that they had “shown the minister the wrong vehicle”, and claimed they had wanted to show him “what was possible”.

Following a public outcry over the scooters, the department then, according to the SIU, issued a new contract for “modified scooters” after they began an investigation.

The Special Tribunal, chaired by Judge Gidfonia Mlindelwa Makhanya, has been established to recover public funds lost through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows.

The chairperson of the health committee in the Eastern Cape legislature, Mxolisi Dimaza, said they have completed their report on the tender, with input from the provincial treasury and the department of transport, and will present it at the next session of the house.

The Democratic Alliance’s Jane Cowley said serious questions have been asked about how the tender originated and whether the purchase of the scooters provides value for money.

“But more worrying is that the department of health entered into the contract in the first place, as all medical fleet procurement in the province is managed through the transport department. 

“This is just one of a litany of faux pas made by the MEC during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been deemed one of the worst health crises the province has faced.

“The DA has repeatedly called on Premier Oscar Mabuyane to remove both the MEC and the head of department. We trust that the Special Tribunal will get to the bottom of this mess and that those responsible are held to account,” said Cowley.

The department did not respond to a request for comment.

Makgotho said while none of the parties opposed the interdict, all have indicated that they will present their case during the application by the SIU to have the tender reviewed and set aside.

He said they have received a formal undertaking that “modifications” to the scooters, which the department has asked for under the new contract, would not go ahead. DM/MC


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Brassington says:

    As a retired ALS paramedic, I fail to see how this was implemented in the first place, even how it got off the drawing board stage , if there was one. Cadre deployment at its best.

  • Christine de Groot says:

    If the scooter ambulances are those shown on the photo they look extremely dangerous. The patient transported might fall or be thrown out at any time.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    I am a beer home brewer. Can I buy one of those to transport any illicit beer that I might (I said “might”) need transporting in a rush?

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.