Digital Vibes contract: R1m spent on starting luxury hair and beauty salons
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SUSPENDED health minister Zweli Mkhize’s family allegedly used more than R1 million from the Digital Vibes contract to launch two upmarket nail, hair and beauty salons in Pietermaritzburg in 2020.
Allegations have since surfaced that the tainted R150m Digital Vibes contract benefited Mkhize’s son Dedani and daughter-in-law Sthoko Mkhize who opened a luxury nail boutique in the Midlands Liberty Mall and a hair salon in a smaller shopping centre in their hometown.
It was reported that R650 000 was given to Sthoko to open her Tammy Taylor Nails franchise while R446 000 was used to start a new hair salon, Gold Ace Cuts and Curls, which is reportedly co-owned by Dedani.
This is despite Dedani denying claims that he benefited from the Digital Vibes contract.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has since referred Mkhize senior and junior to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), over corruption charges.
In the SIU’s findings following its probe into the contract, Mkhize senior is accused of having received R6.7m while his son is said to have received 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.
Mkhize also said he never requested Digital Vibes to pay for maintenance to his private home.
This is contained in the court papers the SIU filed at the Special Tribunal.
Mkhize said the messenger had stolen the money for maintenance services provided by his housekeeper and had subsequently approached a Digital Vibes executive to pay for them.
Mkhize said the messenger approached Mitha to pay the money for the services, which she then did. Evidence, however, showed Digital Vibes paid the money.
Shortly before President Cyril Ramaphosa had placed the former ANC treasurer on special leave, Mkhize addressed the media during an oversight visit in Kimberley where he apologised to the nation for the multimillion rand communications tender scandal.
“I acknowledge and take full responsibility for the public outrage that is being caused by the Digital Vibes contract. I also want to state upfront I do not in anyway undermine the voices, the views, the disappointment, the anger and the calls for accountability that have been made by the citizens.
“The negative discourse has not only impacted on me but it has also had an impact on my family but, most of all, has tainted the team work of our government led by the president… and it has caused disruptions, and for all of this I want to reservedly apologise,” he said.