Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Govt agency official charged with corruption over Digital Vibes tender gets bail

Lizeka Tonjeni has been released on bail of R5,000 by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

A government agency official charged with corruption in connection with a multimillion-rand contract that was awarded to controversial communications company, Digital Vibes, has been granted bail of R5,000.

Lizeka Tonjeni, who works for the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA), on Tuesday appeared before the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court after she handed herself to police at the Pretoria Central Police Station.

The 47-year-old’s arrest followed investigations by the Hawks’ serious corruption offences unit into a 2018 tender of almost R4 million (R3.947,000) that was awarded by MISA to Digital Vibes to render communication services for a period of two years.

ALSO READ: Senior Cogta employee arrested in connection with Digital Vibes contract

MISA is a national entity of the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) and it’s accountable to the minister of Cogta.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Tonjeni was nominated as a project manager responsible for the appointment and management of the Digital Vibes contract, and all communication had to be addressed to her.

Payments received

During her time as the project manager, Tonjeni allegedly received payments of R160,000 from December 2018 until August 2020 that were not authorised and due to her from Digital Vibes.

Digital Vibes is a little-known communications company that is owned by former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s close associates, Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha.

The company made headlines last year after a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe found that a communications tender worth R150 million – awarded by the national Department of Health to Digital Vibes – was irregular and personally benefitted Mkhize, his family and close associates.

The report by the SIU, released by the Presidency in September 2021, led to Mkhize’s resignation from the health department in the wake of the scandal.

The former minister has constantly denied any wrongdoing over the tender and has taken the SIU report on review.

Bail hearing

During Tonjeni’s bail hearing on Tuesday, the state did not oppose her bid for bail.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) regional spokesperson, Lumka Mahanjana, said the state asked the court to order Tonjeni to hand in her passport to the clerk of the court.

The State also asked that she should not travel outside of Gauteng unless she applied with the investigating officer, among her other bail conditions.

“The matter will be back in court on 15 June 2022 for disclosure of the docket,” Mahanjanas said.

The Hawks and NPA said investigations into the Digital Vibes matter continued, with more arrests expected soon.

NOW READ: Fraud, lies, unlawful conduct: Key findings from SIU’s report into Digital Vibes

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