Ambulances used as taxis to make cash

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The Limpopo department of health and social development is investigating allegations that its ambulances are being used as taxis.

The allegations emerged after an ambulance was spotted transporting people from The Oaks, a village in the Greater Maruleng municipality near Hoedspruit, to Leboweng village near Ohrigstad yesterday.

The ambulance, with registration number GHG 437 L, was seen by residents at a hiking spot on the T-Junction between Hoedspruit and Leboweng in the Mopani district.

It was said to be on its way to pick up a patient from Leboweng Clinic to Sekororo Hospital.

As a result, the patient had to wait for the ambulance for hours.

"We always see this ambulance ferrying people from one place to another.

"It is safer to use a private vehicle or even an ambulance because it is cheap and takes us to our destination on time," said Grace Makgoba, one of the hitchhikers at Hoedspruit yesterday.

She said minibus taxis were expensive and not user-friendly.

"At times we are forced to stay in a taxi for about two hours before we leave," she said.

Taxi drivers in the area have reportedly lodged several complaints about government vehicles taking their customers.

The same ambulance was also reportedly found carrying commuters in the Sekororo area.

The chairman of the Letaba Taxi Association, Lepono Mohlabe, said the association had always had problems with government vehicles "stealing" their passengers.

Provincial spokesman for the department of health, Phuti Seloba, said they had suspended a number of officials for using departmental vehicles for their private jobs.