Public protector finds R10m medical scooters were procured improperly

The public protector has found that the medical scooters the Eastern Cape health department bought for transporting patients in rural areas were improperly procured. File photo.
The public protector has found that the medical scooters the Eastern Cape health department bought for transporting patients in rural areas were improperly procured. File photo.
Image: MARK ANDREWS

The public protector has found the Eastern Cape health department did not follow due process in procuring medical scooters for R10m to transport patients.

The department purchased the motorcycles in 2020 after getting complaints from rural communities that ambulances could not reach the sick and elderly due to poor road infrastructure.

But the procurement was criticised with many observers questioning the type of care that would be delivered to patients and whether the scooters would be able to traverse poor roads.

Questions were also raised over the cost of the project and to whom the tender was awarded.

Acting public protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, giving an update on Tuesday about investigations completed in the 2020/2021 financial year, said the probe had determined that the procurement process followed by the department to supply the scooters was improper.

The public protector’s office had initiated the investigation, she said.

“We found that the procurement process followed by [provincial health] when it awarded Fabkomp to supply motorbikes with a sidecar ambulance or clinic was improper and in contravention of applicable legal prescripts,” Gcaleka said.

To remedy this maladministration and improper conduct, Gcaleka said the acting head of the department of health should take the appropriate steps in respect of disciplinary action in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and the applicable policies of the department against officials involved in and responsible for the non-compliance within 90 days from the date of the report.

“The acting head must also ensure that all the officials involved in SCM [supply chain management] processes and the senior managers of the department attend a workshop on the relevant legislation and other legal and policy prescripts and instructions of the national and provincial treasuries regulating the procurement of goods and services by the department within 60 days from the date of this report.”

According to the public protector, the health MEC should ensure that steps are taken in respect of disciplinary action against any decision maker(s) regardless of position across all the ranks of seniority who were involved in or responsible for the non-compliance with the provisions of supply chain management within 90 days from the date of the report.

The public protector released 21 reports on Tuesday. Of those, 10 were closed investigations.

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