By Kaya 959 News
President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on special leave.
“This period of special leave will enable the Minister to attend to allegations and investigations concerning contracts between the Department of Health and a service provider, Digital Vibes,” the Presidency said in a statement.
The Special Investigating Unit is investigating this matter and the President awaits a report on the outcome of this probe.
Minister of Tourism Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane will serve as Acting Minister of Health until further notice.
Digital Vibes under the spotlight
Digital Vibes is a media company run by Mkhize’s former personal spokesperson, Tahera Mather and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha.
The company was awarded a R150 million tender for services linked to the National Health Insurance and later the roll-out of communications around Covid-19.
At least R90m of the R150m was funneled to entities set up by both women to business and personal accounts of some of Mather’s immediate family. Funds were also channeled to suspicious third parties.
Thus far, investigations have established that R40m was used for legitimate service providers and other costs related to the department’s contract. R20m has not been accounted for.
Mkhize is due to appear before the ANC’s Integrity Committee. As it stands, Mkhize has not been charged over the debacle however, the Special Investigations Unit is investigating further.
ANC Acting Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte, said they welcomed Mkhize’s decision to appear before the IC.
Digital Vibes owner opens fraud case
Meanwhile, Digital Vibes owner and director has laid charges of her own. According to Radha Hariram, she had enlisted the services of the two women due to the workload ahead of them.
She said in March 2020, she was unable to work as she had fallen ill.
Hariram said she entrusted Mitha with banking pins and passwords. She also asked Mitha to take care of the financial side of the business, including liaising with debtors and creditors.
In her affidavit, Hariram said she trusted Mitha.
It is during this period that Mitha and Mather allegedly embezzled more than R80m from the company.
She alleged that she became suspicious when the irregular tender rumours surfaced in February.
However, she was reassured that all was well and according to the women, the allegations were baseless.
“Unbeknownst to me and without my consent, Naadhira and Tahera had embezzled and stolen tens of millions of rand from Digital Vibes and effectively me. Their modus operandi was to make payments from Digital Vibes to third parties as if the payments were for services and value when in fact it was not,” she alleged.
Hariram said the women have since paid back R9m.
SAPS spokesperson, Kay Makhubela, confirmed that a case of fraud had been opened at the Norwood police station.
While the SIU continues with their investigation, pressure is mounting on Mkhize to resign.
Mkhize conceded that the contract was irregular but he claimed he never benefited from it.
But later evidence emerged that Digital Vibes had allegedly transferred money to a company owned by Mkhize’s son.