Digital Vibes scandal — Mkhize’s son allegedly handed plastic bags filled with cash

The son of health minister Zweli Mkhize was allegedly handed plastic bags and cardboard boxes filled with money siphoned from the health department via a dodgy contract held by communications agency Digital Vibes, The Sunday Times reported.

This was one of the claims the paper said it saw in the Special Investigating Unit’s 90-page affidavit on its investigation into the R150-million contract.

The SIU alleged Digital Vibes called in a cash-‘n-carry expert to help launder the contract’s funds, with Mkhize’s son Dedani allegedly receiving over R4.2 million through EFTs.

This included money for a car, and cash that was given to him in plastic bags and cardboard boxes by a petrol station manager who was registered as the owner of Digital Vibes.

Dedani denied that he received the money and said the SIU’s affidavit was based on media reports.

His payments are part of R90 million that Digital Vibes allegedly paid to 20 individuals and companies linked to Mkhize and the two main players behind Digital Vibes.

Among these, Digital Vibes allegedly paid R20.52 million to Composit Trade and Investments, a company owned by a close friend of the minister.

Another R14.2 million was received by Strategeewhizz, owned Mkhize’s former personal assistant and niece of the owner of Composit Trade and Investments.

The SIU’s lead investigator said the evidence suggested that Mkhize and his son had contravened the Prevention & Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. At the same time, the minister had also contravened the Public Finance Management Act, the SIU stated.

The matter is now being investigated by the Hawks to take further action, while President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been handed a report from the SIU with its findings.

Zweli Mkhize, minister of health, with President Cyril Ramaphosa to his right.

Allegations of corruption in Mkhize’s office first surfaced earlier this year.

The heat was turned on the minister near the end of May after the SIU told media that the contract with Digital Vibes was irregular and that disciplinary action would be taken against those responsible.

Ramaphosa placed Mkhize on special leave in June to allow him to address the allegations.

The minister is accused of putting pressure on the department to hire Digital Vibes and benefitting from R6,720 in repairs to his home in Johannesburg, which was paid for by the agency.

Mkhize claimed the money for the repairs was stolen by his messenger, a person who also has the Mkhize surname, who then asked Digital Vibes to pay for them.

The SIU has cast doubt on this version because the minister did not indicate whether he had taken any action against the messenger for the alleged theft.

“Therefore, the veracity of the explanation of the messenger is, in the view of the SIU, in doubt,” the affidavit stated.

The SIU was previously granted an order to freeze R22 million in bank and investment accounts linked to Digital Vibes.

It also said it would approach the Special Tribunal to have the Covid-19 media campaign contract awarded by the Department of Health to Digital Vibes declared unlawful and invalid.

The SIU said their preliminary investigations had revealed clear evidence exposing two highly irregular and unlawful transactions.

  1. A procurement process in 2019 where Digital Vibes was appointed to perform communications services relating to the NHI.
  2. A transaction in 2020 where Digital Vibes was appointed for a Covid-19 awareness campaign without a competitive bidding or procurement process

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Digital Vibes scandal — Mkhize’s son allegedly handed plastic bags filled with cash