News / South Africa / Breaking News

Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
20 Oct 2021
3:01 pm

SIU to oppose Mkhize’s application to have Digital Vibes report set aside

Molefe Seeletsa

The investigating unit says Mkhize's review application does not suspend the implementation of its report.

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Lulama Zenzile)

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has signalled its intention to oppose former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s review application.

Court bid

Mkhize recently approached the Johannesburg High Court with an application seeking to have the SIU’s report into Digital Vibes’ R150 million contract with the Department of Health reviewed and set aside.

In a founding affidavit dated 14 October, the former minister claimed that had his submissions and evidence been taken into account, the SIU would have come to a different conclusion regarding his alleged involvement in the appointment of Digital Vibes, News24 reported.

Mkhize further argued the SIU report ended his career as a public servant, and as a result, wants the findings and recommendations declared unlawful and unconstitutional.

ALSO READ: Digital Vibes: SIU hopes NPA will charge Mkhize for ‘actions of criminality’

Reacting to the move, the SIU indicated that it would oppose Mkhize’s application.

“In line with the high court rules, the SIU has time until 9 November 2021 to file a notice of intention to oppose and the SIU will only be required to file its answering or opposing affidavit 30 days after Dr Mkhize has had an opportunity to consider the proposed rule 35 record and has decided whether he would like to supplement his papers,” SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement.

Kganyago said the former minister’s application, however, does not suspend the implementation of the SIU report.

Case management

He also pointed out that the SIU would not disrupted in its bid to have the Digital Vibes contract set aside and for damages to be claimed.

This is after a case management meeting was held in the Special Tribunal last Friday.

“The Special Tribunal made it clear that the SIU review proceedings will continue uninterrupted by the then proposed review application to be brought by Dr Mkhize, and that if Dr. Mkhize wanted to try to stay the SIU review proceedings, then he would be required to apply for a stay of those proceedings, which the SIU will oppose,” Kganyago added.

READ MORE: Digital Vibes excesses: R3 million in boxes and a lamb dressed in Louis Vuitton

Last month, the SIU told Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that it would apply for a case management and that it wants a preservation order totalling R266 million imposed on Digital Vibes and 11 others.

There is a previous preservation order in which the SIU was granted an order to freeze R22 million in bank accounts linked to Digital Vibes.

Probe

The SIU carried out the probe into the irregular tender earlier this year after claims that Mkhize and his family personally benefited from the contract, which was for the department’s National Health Insurance (NHI) communication work and later, Covid-19 media campaigns.

Mkhize is accused of putting pressure on the Department of Health to hire Digital Vibes and benefiting from R6,720 in repairs to his home, which was paid for by the company.

READ MORE: Mkhize’s son admits to receiving money from Digital Vibes ‘owner’

He resigned from his position early in August before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle.

The SIU report, released late last month, found the Digital Vibes contract was irregularly awarded, with procurement procedures not followed and National Treasury regulations flouted.

The report also concluded that Department of Health officials were in conflict of interest as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R72 million and irregular expenditure of R150 million being incurred by the department.

Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde and Thapelo Lekabe