Digital Vibes: Zweli Mkhize, son could face charges as SIU refers matter to NPA

Zweli Mkhize. Image credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who is currently on special leave, and his son Dedani Mkhize could face charges over their alleged involvement in the Digital Vibes corruption scandal.

In papers filed at the Special Tribunal on Thursday (29 July), the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said it had referred the two, along with other individuals, to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for possible corruption charges.

‘Undue gratification’

The SIU’s application is aimed at recovering R150 million in alleged irregular payments to Digital Vibes, a company controlled by former Mkhize associates Tahera Mathe and Naadhira Mitha, by the Department of Health.

The Unit alleges that Mkhize received R6,720 from Digital Vibes, allegedly for maintenance work done at a property his family owned in Bryanston, Johannesburg. Dedani allegedly received R3.8 million.

According to the SIU, these payments amount to “undue gratification” from Digital Vibes because they emanate from the R150 million communications contract they company was awarded by the Department of Health.

Mkhize and Dedani are among 20 people the SIU listed as alleged beneficiaries of R90 million of the R150 million. It wants this contract declared unlawful and invalid, and be set aside.

In the SIU’s founding affidavit, lead investigator Rajendra Chunilall alleged that payments to Mkhize and Dedani amount to offences under various sections of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA). The NPA should therefore consider charges against them, she argued.

“The following funds directly or indirectly received by these parties from Digital Vibes constitute undue gratification or were transferred for purposes of money laundering or as the proceeds of unlawful activities and derive from the unlawful payments that Digital Vibes received from the NDOH in terms of the impugned transactions, which were made without any proof of goods, works of services (i.e. value) rendered by such parties in exchange for such funds (i.e. these parties were directly or indirectly unduly enriched to the ultimate detriment of the NDOH),” Chunilall argued.

Ramaphosa considering Mkhize’s fate

Mkhize has consistently denied wrongdoing, insisting that although Mather and Mitha served as his spokesperson and personal assistant previously, they are not his friends.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed for more time to consider Mkhize’s fate as a Minister.

“I have received the SIU report and there is some finalisation of certain aspects which we’re going to get. I am looking at it, so allow me the time and space to look at that,” he said.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has been acting as Minister of Health since early June.

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