AN investigation into two ambulances racing to a three-car pile-up on the N2 outside East London is underway after a video recording showed one attempting to ride the other off the road while travelling at high speed.
The two-minute video shows a branded Dynamic Emergency Medical Services ambulance swerving across dual lanes to stop a Maponya 911 ambulance from overtaking. When the two ambulances came to a stop at the scene of the collision, a heated verbal argument ensued, after which the Dynamic ambulance driver appears to pull out a firearm and threaten the Maponya 911 staff.
Police spokeswoman Captain Mluleki Mbi said Maponya 911 driver Pumelela Tiyo, 32, had been arrested for allegedly assaulting Dynamic driver Luvo Tyokolo, 23. Tyokolo was then arrested for pointing a firearm at Tiyo.
The video – which has gone viral on social media and only shows the speeding vehicles – has led to other emergency providers lashing out at reckless driving, which they blame on a highly competitive industry.
The video has led to a probe being launched by the Eastern Cape Department of Health which under new regulations has power to take action against private service providers.
The footage, filmed by Maponya 911 staff members, shows the Dynamic ambulance in front of them racing to an accident on the N2 near Summerpride.
The cellphone video was shot on Thursday and shows both ambulances travelling at high speed while the Dynamic ambulance blocks the Maponya 911 ambulance from overtaking.
Maponya 911 is a national ambulance provider, while Dynamic operates only in the Eastern Cape.
Several attempts were made by the Maponya 911 driver to overtake the Dynamic ambulance, but each attempt was blocked.
The video comes after a string of incidents in Nelson Mandela Bay involving private ambulance staff allegedly fighting after racing to accident scenes.
Private companies say they are paid up to R3 000 per patient transported to hospital.
Maponya 911 general manager Elvis Mokoena said the company was shocked by the incident and called on authorities to act swiftly to bring law and order to the industry.
“When [the Maponya ambulance] stopped at the crash, a verbal argument ensued, resulting in the Dynamic medic allegedly pointing a firearm at our staff,” he said.
“. . . As the two ambulances approached and entered the N2, the Maponya 911 driver wanted to pass in a parallel lane and it can be clearly seen from the video that the Dynamic driver was swerving from side to side, clearly obstructing the Maponya 911 [driver].
“The displayed behaviour is reckless, dangerous and unprofessional. At the moment it is a free-for-all in the industry and we hope these regulations will be speedily enforced.”
Dynamic owner Rudy Watson said his driver had been suspended pending an internal investigation.
Provincial Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the department viewed the incident in a serious light and would be calling both companies to a meeting to account for their actions.
Both drivers appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
– Gareth Wilson