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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Digital Vibes scandal: Health department sanctions top officials

The health officials were suspended for their involvement in the Digital Vibes tender.

Three senior Health Department officials have been found guilty for their involvement in the awarding of a communications contract to Digital Vibes.

The department on Thursday released the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing process involving suspended officials.

Dr Anban Pillay, Popo Maja and Shireen Pardesi were suspended last year following the investigations by an independent forensic audit firm and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the multi-million-rand tender.

The SIU found that a tender awarded to Digital Vibes to handle communications around the national health insurance and Covid-19 was irregular.

This resulted in the wasteful and irregular expenditure of R150 million.

Former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was forced to resign after he, his family and close associates were implicated in the tender.

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Pillay, Maja and Pardesi – the three senior departmental officials – were also implicated in the probe.

Spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department received the disciplinary hearing report on 6 June 2022.

“Pillay faced four charges and was found guilty on one charge, Maja was facing four charges and was found guilty on two charges and Pardesi was facing two charges and was found guilty on one charge,” he said.

Mohale said the Department of Health was asked to make submissions into possible sanctions and allow the legal representatives of the employees to make representations on mitigating factors.

“The Chairperson considered the evidence obtained, his findings and the representations by the parties. He also considered the fact that all those charged were first time offenders, and there was no evidence led that suggests that they benefitted from the transactions.”

Mohale said the three officials will face the following sanctions:

  • Dr Anban Pillay shall receive a final written warning valid for 15 months and suspension without pay for three months, which will be followed by salary level demotion for a period of 12 months.
  • Mr Popo Maja shall receive a final written warning valid for 12 months and salary level demotion for 12 months.
  • Mrs Shireen Pardesi proposed that she be allowed to resign from the department with immediate effect, and that was agreed by all parties and confirmed by the Presiding Officer.

ALSO READ: Digital Vibes: SIU explains why it apologised to Mkhize

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