The Department of Health has reportedly suspended the services of a company allegedly linked to two close associates of Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
This after it emerged in February that Digital Vibes, a little-known communications company from KwaZulu-Natal, allegedly benefited from emergency Covid-19 tenders issued by the department valued at more than R82 million.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating a formal complaint regarding the tenders.
The Daily Maverick on Saturday reported that the Department of Health’s spokesperson, Popo Maja, conﬁrmed that they had suspended Digital Vibes’ contract.
Maja said the contract was suspended due to an ongoing probe by a forensic investigator appointed by the department.
Digital Vibes’ principal director, Radha Hariram, confirmed through her attorney that the contract was not terminated, but suspended to allow the investigations to carry on.
The investigation falls part of a proclamation signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year directing the SIU to probe corruption allegations linked to the procurement of personal protective equipment and services by state institutions.
Last month, Mkhize welcomed the SIU investigation into tender irregularities involving Digital Vibes.
The minister said the director-general (DG) met with him in January and gave him an update on ongoing investigations in the department.
“These investigations are based on either audit reports or whistleblowing that would have been received. In relation to Digital Vibes, he advised that the auditor general had raised specific findings on the deviations that were implemented and found them to be irregular.
“He informed me that he had resolved to investigate these matters further and the actual contract in order to ensure that the department is not found wanting by having irregular tenders. I fully supported this view and asked him to go ahead,” said Mkhize.
He said he advised the DG to procure services of an external independent service provider to investigate the matter, as opposed to an internal audit, given that other investigations had also been done externally due to lack of capacity.
“We also welcome the statement by the SIU that they will also investigate these allegations. This is part of the commitment we made that allegations of any form of corruption made must be investigated.”