Two doctors, who run a small-scale ambulance service in Louis Trichardt (Makhado) in Limpopo with no aeromedical experience, landed a lucrative air ambulance contract with the provincial health department which has already paid out close to R3-million in four months.
Phuluso Ambulance Services scored a six-month contract in a joint venture with Fim Aviation, a one-man outfit, also with no track record in aeromedical operations. Fim Aviation then brought in Johannesburg-based Black Eagle Aviation to supply a medically equipped helicopter and crew at the Polokwane base as it did not at the time have the correct licensing to operate an aeromedical service. Why the province did not contract Black Eagle Aviation directly is not known.
It has also now emerged that the province's aeromedical service was grounded on 18 February 2019 after Phuluso and/or Fim Aviation allegedly failed to pay Black Eagle Aviation. The Limpopo health department confirmed on Friday that the service had been suspended between 18 and 28 February, but that it re-commenced last Friday. The department denied that it had continued to pay Phuluso despite there being no service.
Facebook and Twitter accounts and a website for Phuluso Ambulances tell a story of a small-town outfit with...