Durban - WITH the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) having referred suspended Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and his son Dedani to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for corruption charges, the latter has denied ever benefiting from the Digital Vibes contract.
Dedani Mkhize was at pains to distance himself from the R150 million contract handed by the Department of Health to Digital Vibes which has led to his father’s now seemingly indefinite suspension from the health ministry.
In the SIU’s findings following its probe into the contract, Mkhize senior is accused of having received R6.7m while his son, Dedani, is said to have received a payment of R3.8m despite not doing any work for Digital Vibes, as per the SIU’s report.
Also implicated in the scandal is Mkhize’s long-time spokesperson Tahera Mather and his former personal assistant Naadhira Mitha who were enlisted as directors of Digital Vibes.
Mather and Mitha have subsequently been accused by the company’s owner and director Radha Hariram of then embezzling about R80m from the company.
Dedani begins his statement by clearing the air about his relationships with Mather, saying he never denied that he had a personal relationship with Mather and neither had he ever denied that at times their personal relationship was exchanges of money “during the duration of our friendship”.
He said their relationship dated back to 2015 and that one of the monies ever exchanged between himself and Mather were connected to the Digital Vibes contract with the Department of Health.
“It is unfortunate to find myself entangled in a saga I know nothing of.
“It is highly presumptuous to inadvertently suppose that any past financial exchanges with Mather have a bearing on the contract in question.
“I have not benefited a cent from the Digital Vibes contract with the department of Health and to state this as a fact are scurrilous assumptions.
“To assume that past financial exchanges mean I benefit in her business dealings (by virtue of being her friend) seems to be a desperate attempt to sensationalise matters,” Dedani said.
He said he was concerned and disappointed in the manner in which the SIU dealt with him following its investigations in the Digital Vibes and Department of Health contract saga.
“To say that its dealings have been nothing short of unprofessional and biased would be an understatement.
“Frankly, the SIU report relies on media reportings (sic), not a tested legal process.
“As an example, I categorically deny ever receiving R3.8m and this submission in the SIU’s court papers is false.
“From the outset, when my alleged involvement in the debacle was cited, I voluntarily approached the SIU with the assistance of an attorney offering my availability to co-operate with the investigation process.
“I also informed them of an affidavit I had already deposed dealing with the allegations that had been made in the media,” Dedani said.
He said it was in that same affidavit that he made an offer that, if it was proven that he may have unknowingly benefited from an individual who had received funds unlawfully from the state, he would be willing to pay such monies back.
“The SIU acknowledged receipt of my attorney’s correspondence and affidavit.
“I have never received word or engagement from the SIU since that correspondence.
“To date, no contact has ever been made with me.
“I have never been interviewed and no further information was requested.
“I am inclined to believe that the SIU has already made a predetermination on the matter.
“I have waited to be called to an interview by the SIU and nothing has been forthcoming,” Dedani said.
He went on to say that despite there being guiding legal principles such as being given an opportunity to be heard he was never afforded such an opportunity.
He said in his own assessment that it was not in the SIUs interest as doing so may unequivocally rebut the narrative being driven (whether intentionally or unintentionally) that, “Zweli Mkhize and his family is corrupt and that he used his influence as a minister to benefit himself and his family”.
“I have always been proud of the role my father plays in this country but the very same honour has been an added burden on all his children.
“The public scrutiny has not been easy on any of us as his children.
“We have all tried to completely remove ourselves from any activity that has to do with the state.
“We have lived private lives and disassociated ourselves with my father's political life and career,” Dedani said.
He said he was shocked to say the least that the SIU had not yet bothered to serve him or his lawyers with the court papers it had decided to file.
“I have had to learn through a media article of all the goings of an investigation I am supposedly a part of and their efforts to recover R3.8m that I have never ever received.
“I have nothing to hide and would appeal to the SIU to solicit my response to its investigations, it's the correct thing to do.
“The credibility and independence of this institution should be maintained if we are to uphold the values of our democracy and constitution.
“In my view I am being presumed guilty without trial,” Dedani said.