Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
29 Sep 2021
12:59 pm

Digital Vibes: DA calls for criminal probes against Mkhize, health officials

Thapelo Lekabe

The DA says Ramaphosa sat on the SIU report for three months and has accused him of using delaying tactics to not make it public.

Former minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize inside Tshwane District Hospital. Picture: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday called for criminal investigations against former health minister Zweli Mkhize and officials of the Department of Health implicated in alleged corruption involving the R150 million contract awarded to Digital Vibes.

This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the release of the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) report to the public on Wednesday after he received it in late June.

The 114-page report made damning findings against the health department’s officials, including Mkhize, who according to the SIU, interfered in the administrative authority of the department, which led to Digital Vibes winning the contract.

Digital Vibes was awarded the tender for the health department’s National Health Insurance (NHI) communication work and later, Covid-19 media campaigns.

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

Speaking to the media during a virtual briefing, DA spokesperson for health Siviwe Gwarube called on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pursue criminal investigations and prosecutions against Mkhize, the department’s suspended director-general (DG) Sandile Buthelezi, former acting DG Dr Anban Pillay and the chief financial officer, Ian van der Merwe.

“Further to this, on 3 June 2021, the DA laid criminal charges against both Mkhize and Buthelezi. We call on the police to give us feedback on our criminal charges and to supplement their investigation to include Pillay and Van der Merwe who have been identified by this report,” Gwarube said.

She said it was also important for the current Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla to clean up the rot in the department by removing all officials implicated in the report pending a criminal investigation.

“The report has confirmed what we have always known: that all those who have been implicated in this corruption scandal must be criminally investigated and prosecuted.

“The SIU report, which was a culmination of an investigation into the awarding of the Digital Vibes contract which was deemed irregular, has proven that many within the Department of Health, including the former minister Mkhize and senior management, were involved in the awarding of this contract and are possibly guilty of corruption.”

Ramaphosa must take ‘full accountability’

Gwarube said Ramaphosa sat on the SIU report for three months and accused him of using delaying tactics to not make it public.

She said the president should also take full accountability for the Digital Vibes scandal.

“He publicly thanked former minister Zweli Mkhize when he stepped down [In August] in light of this scandal, despite having this report in his possession and knowing the scathing contents thereof,” Gwarube said.

Hawks, health dept studying SIU report

Meanwhile, the Hawks and the Department of Health on Wednesday said they were still studying the SIU’s report.

The Hawks are investigating allegations of corruption in the department’s contract with Digital Vibes.

Hawks spokesperson Katlego Mogale said: “Once we have gone through the report and comprehended the recommendations contained therein, only then can we respond to the answers to your enquiry.”

Health department spokesperson Foster Mohale said they would communicate at a later stage the way forward regarding the implementation of the SIU’s recommendations.

“No one, except the director-general, has been suspended,” Mohale said.

Additional reporting by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

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