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Port Elizabeth -The Eastern Cape health department is investigating a scam in which ambulance staff allegedly overcharge for petrol.
“An ambulance would travel 10km but spend over R2 000 on petrol,” spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said on Wednesday.
“We suspect it is a syndicate operating at petrol stations in the province. We are worried about the looting taking place in the department. We are going to take appropriate action against all those implicated in the report.”
The department and a private forensics firm began an investigation after irregularities were noted. Over 20 ambulances were linked to the alleged fuel card abuse. It was not yet clear how many people were involved.
There was a possibility that the fuel was purchased in excess of the vehicles' tank capacity.
Three officials of the department were suspended on Tuesday.
“The perpetrators are so arrogant. On Tuesday, officials visited one of the stations and confiscated all petrol cards and officials were assigned to fill up the ambulances,” said Kupelo.
“All the ambulances were filled up and a driver took one out on an emergency. He travelled 10km but the ambulance 1/8petrol tank 3/8 was empty when he returned. He was suspended and investigations are underway.”
In July, a driver took an ambulance from the base and instead of responding to a critical patient he was found parked outside a house. Kupelo said the driver was being investigated.
“The department forwarded the report to the police for them to take further action,” he said.