SA’s ex-minister could face criminal charges

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

DR Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s former health minister who resigned at the height of a corruption scandal, faces possible criminal charges.

This was revealed by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) during a presentation to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

According to Advocate Andy Mothibi’s presentation to the committee, the evidence of possible criminal conduct in the Digital Vibes matter, which involves a R150-million communication tender awarded to close associates of Mkhize.

Mkhize’s case is among the 19 cases referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a decision. Mothibi said the SIU had hoped that its recommendation that fraud, corruption and money laundering charges should be preferred will be upheld.

“We have found evidence pointing to criminal action. So that evidence was referred to the NPA. We have made 19 criminal referrals. All of those parties that have been referred to. Evidence will be evaluated by the NPA and we are hoping that those charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering will be sustained,” Mothibi said.

The SIU head told the committee that the findings against Mkhize were that:

  • Failed to execute his function in compliance with the Constitution, general oversight responsibilities in respect of the affairs of the National Department of Health and his obligations in terms of Section 63 of the PFMA;
  • Caused irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure to be incurred;
  • May have committed actions of criminality;
  • Possible conflicts of interest in the appointment of Digital Vibes;
  • May have been negligent when approving budgets in respect of the National Health Insurance and the COVID-19 media campaigns
  • May have acted contrary to a relevant Cabinet Decision.

Mkhize has denied any wrongdoing and said the SIU has not given him fair hearing.

The SIU has won a court order freezing R22-million held by Digital Vibes. The order prohibits Digital Vibes, Tahera Mather, Naadira Mitha, Suhaila Mather, Suhaila Mather Consulting (Pty Ltd, Amods Attorneys, WT Graphics and Designs (Pty) Ltd and Strategeewhiz (Pty) Ltd from dealing with monies held in several bank accounts.

According to the Daily Maverick and Scorpio, bought a R150 000 Toyota Land Cruiser for Mkhize’s son, Dedani, paid him R300 000 and paid for work done at Mkhize’s Johannesburg home. 

The South African presidency has announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering the SIU report into the Digital Vibes. 

The report includes the SIU’s referral for disciplinary action to be taken against civil servants implicated in the scandal. 

The presidency said it has sent out third party notices to all individuals referred to in the report before it is made public. 

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