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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

Misa senior official found guilty for Digital Vibes-related corruption

Senior Misa official Lizeka Tonjeni is found guilty in the Digital Vibes corruption case. Sentencing in June.

A Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (Misa) senior official, Lizeka Tonjeni, was found guilty on Friday of corruption related to the Digital Vibes contract.

Under the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Misa is a branch of the national government. 

It was awarded a tender in 2018 for almost R4 million to Digital Vibes to render communication services for 24 months. Tonjeni, 49, was nominated as a project manager responsible for the appointment and management of the service provider, to whom all communication had to be addressed. 

Unauthorised R160 000 payment

According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana, from December 2018 until August 2020, while Tonjeni was still a project manager, she received payments of R160 000 that were not authorised and due to her from Digital Vibes.

Following investigations, Tonjeni was arrested on 24 May 2022, after she handed herself to the police at the Pretoria Central Police Station.

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She was released on R5 000 bail, with the condition that she should hand in her passport to the clerk of the court and not apply for a new passport. She also could not travel outside Gauteng unless she applied with the investigating officer.

Tonjeni pleaded not guilty

Tonjeni pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied that she fraudulently received payments from Digital Vibes.

“In her testimony, she said the payments she received from the director of Digital Vibes, Tahera Mather, were payments for weight loss and energy booster products she was selling; as such, she still owes the director of Digital Vibes R85 000 since she was unable to deliver some of the products and pay back her money,” Mahanjana said.

“However, a team of prosecutors, Advocates Willem van Zyl and Phuma Dwane, called witnesses, who are Misa employees, to testify and adduced evidence to prove that indeed Tonjeni was guilty of the charges preferred against her.”

The NPA said during the judgment at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, Magistrate Setshoge found Tonjeni’s evidence not to be reasonably true and dishonest.

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Prior to her judgment, Tonjeni brought an application to have her bail extended, but the state opposed it because she failed to comply with her bail conditions. 

She travelled and moved to the Eastern Cape without notifying the investigating officer and applied for a new passport, while her bail conditions prohibited her from doing so. 

Tonjeni ‘undermined justice and bail system’

“In her judgment, the magistrate found that Tonjeni undermined the justice system and bail system. The scenario gives a likelihood that Tonjeni will flee whenever she wants; therefore, the application was dismissed,” Mahanjana said.

The matter was postponed to 6 June 2024, for sentencing proceedings.