SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign welcome the announcement of a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) probe into contracts that the Free State and North West health departments entered into with Buthelezi EMS, a controversial private ambulance company.
Proclamation 42 of 2019 published in the Government Gazette on 12 July 2019 will focus on contracts for both aeromedical services and ground ambulance services, contracts worth millions. The two ground ambulance contracts in question are with Buthelezi EMS, while the aeromedical contract is with Buthelezi HEMS (a joint venture between Buthelezi EMS and HALO Aviation). This follows a two year long investigation into dodgy contracts awarded to Buthelezi in more than five provinces by Spotlight, a joint SECTION27 and TAC publication.
Spotlight published its Health4Sale investigative series that, amongst others, exposed the misuse of HIV funds to pay Buthelezi EMS in the North West, evidence of extreme overcharging in both the North West and Free State, various tender irregularities in both provinces, a suspect price increase in the Free State, and allegedly poor quality of service in the ground ambulance operations in both provinces.
The SIU investigation is a promising indication of the government’s commitment to holding public servants accountable where there have been allegations that public money has been used illegitimately. The SIU will, amongst others, investigate whether there was “maladministration in connection with the affairs of the FSDOH and the NWDOH”, “improper or unlawful conduct by employees or officials of the FSDOH and the NWDOH” and “unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property”. It is also a signal to private sector operators that corruption will no longer be tolerated.
This is an encouraging trend and we hope to see more of this kind of responsiveness in relation to other allegations of malfeasance within the state.
For more information contact:
Ntsiki Mpulo 082 7827143 on behalf of SECTION27
Ngqabutho Mpofu 061 807 6443 on behalf of the TAC