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Digital Vibes: Zweli Mkhize shifts blame for home maintenance costs to messenger

Former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the messenger who was tasked with facilitating the home maintenance had not been charged. File Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the messenger who was tasked with facilitating the home maintenance had not been charged. File Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 26, 2021


DURBAN - FORMER Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has accused the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) of rejecting his version of events over the R6 720 which was allegedly paid by Digital Vibes towards his family home maintenance.

This was despite further evidence by Mkhize, who filed papers in the High Court in Johannesburg last week to have the damning SIU report set aside and findings against him declared unconstitutional and unlawful.

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Mkhize is accused of allegedly putting pressure on department officials to award a controversial R150 million tender to Digital Vibes, a company owned by Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha, alleged to be friends of Mkhize and his family.

The R6 720 is part of the millions paid by Digital Vibes in what the SIU believed “constituted undue gratification or were for the purposes of money laundering or as proceeds of unlawful activities and derive from unlawful payments”.

Mkhize said the SIU claimed his version of events was “in doubt” as the messenger tasked with facilitating the maintenance had not been charged. He said the SIU ignored the fact that “it had instructed me not to take any further action in relation to the Digital Vibes matter which had by that stage been taken over by the SIU team”.

In Mkhize’s version, the messenger employed by the department, Thami Mkhize, was allegedly given money by Mkhize’s wife (Dr May Mkhize) to do repairs, but the messenger kept the money for himself.

It is alleged that on his own accord, he asked one of the Digital Vibes directors to pay the service provider on his behalf, as they regarded each other as “brother and sister”.

Thami has since filed a supporting affidavit in this regard.

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“I submitted an affidavit dated June 15, 2021, to the SIU confirming that I had engaged 4 Way Maintenance Services to undertake repairs at the family home of Dr May Mkhize in Johannesburg,” read Thami’s supporting affidavit.

“I gave my cell number as a person to contact which appears on the invoice. I understand that the SIU questioned Dr Zwelini Mkhize about the number on the invoice. I confirm that the cell number on the invoice is indeed my number and registered under my name in terms of Rica,” he said.

Mkhize said the SIU rejected the explanation provided in this regard to the approximately R7 000 paid towards his family home maintenance.

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“It (SIU) says because I did not ‘indicate’ in questioning that Mr Thami Mkhize (the messenger) had been fired or whether we had laid charges against him, the explanation is in doubt,” Mkhize said.

He said the SIU also did not ask him “this” question during his “lengthy interrogation” on June 22, 2021, but had he been asked, he would have answered.

“It was not apparent to me or those who advised me that Thami’s conduct in fact in the circumstances amounted to theft. My wife had given him the money and he had paid the electrician through his own arrangements. However, I was not out of my pockets because of his actions,” Mkhize said.

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He added that the SIU did not ask him and the president was not told about this. The letter to Mkhize by SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi, dated June 8, 2021, reads: “I thank you for directing the national Department of Health to co-operate and collaborate fully with the SIU in pursuit of the investigation, especially in respect of areas that can benefit the department in its internal disciplinary processes, etc.”

Mkhize said it was clear from the correspondence that he had undertaken not to take any steps as the minister of health in connection with Digital Vibes.

Thami did not respond to questions, texts sent to him and calls.

Digital Vibes attorney Sumenthren Pillay said he could not comment on the matter because he had not seen the documents.

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