The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says it has been granted an order to freeze R22 million held in bank and investment accounts linked to media company, Digital Vibes.

The unit says it will also approach the Special Tribunal, where the order was granted, to have the COVID-19 media campaign contract that was irregularly awarded by the Health Department to Digital Vibes declared unlawful and invalid.

Health Minister Zweli MkhizeMkhize is implicated in the issuing of a contract to communications company Digital Vibes, worth R150 million.

Earlier in June, he apologised for the negative impact of the allegations against him to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mkhize apologises for the negative impact of Digital Vibes allegations:

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa later placed Mkhize on special leave. Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, is currently acting as the Health Minister.

President Ramaphosa dealing with allegations against Dr Zweli Mkhize:

SIU Spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, says if they find that any crime was committed, they will enlist the services of the NPA.

“We are also going to send some of the referrals to the Department of Health for the officials to be disciplined for whatever they need to be disciplined for that we would find at the end of the investigation. We will then go back to the Special Tribunal and make sure that we cancel this contract and make sure that all the monies that have been paid unfairly to anyone will be brought back to the Department of Health,” he adds.

Kganyago says while proceedings are still ongoing, preliminary investigations have revealed clear evidence of two highly irregular and unlawful transactions.

“Though the SIU investigation in the appointment of Digital Vibes is ongoing, the preliminary investigations have revealed clear evidence exposing two highly irregular and unlawful transactions. The first transaction is a procurement process in 2019 in terms of which Digital Vibes was appointed to perform communications services relating to the National Health Insurance (NHI). The second transaction occurred in 2020 during the tenure of the first transaction when Digital Vibes was ‘appointed’ in respect of a COVID-19 awareness campaign without any competitive bidding or other procurement process at all,” explains Kganyago.

SIU probes R82m contract between Digital Vibes and the Health Department:

Over expenditure in purchase of face masks

On a probe into the North West Education Department, the SIU says an informal procurement committee set up by the department has revealed that there was over-expenditure totalling more than R6.5 million relating to the purchase of face masks. The SIU says a service provider was appointed irregularly to buy face masks on behalf of the department in 2020.

The SIU says the provincial education department was initially supposed to procure 100 000 masks worth R2.5 million, but instead 300 000 masks were added, bringing the total cost to R9.2 million.

Kganyago says the procurements were against Treasury regulations.

“This happened as they had RFQ’s that were 50 000 mask each and they were only supposed to pay R2.5 million, but they ended up buying 300 000 more mask using the same RFQ that was supposed to buy only 100 000 masks. Therefore, we are still investigating this matter. We will approach the special tribunal to make sure that we recover money that would have been lost due to the transaction that they did in this particular case.”

– Additional reporting by Zebilon Maine.