Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
24 May 2021
4:38 pm

Covid-19 corruption probe ‘involving Mkhize’s friends at an advanced stage’

Molefe Seeletsa

Investigation into the department of health’s contracts valued at more than R82 million is still under way.

Special Investigating Unit head advocate Andy Mothibi was briefing Scopa. Picture: Gallo Images

The investigation into Covid-19 corruption allegations involving Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s close associates is at an advanced stage, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) revealed on Monday.

The SIU, together with department of public works and infrastructure, launched the Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum in Cape Town on Monday.

The unit was established in effort to fight fraud and corruption in the construction sector.

Speaking at the launch, SIU head Andy Mothibi indicated that the investigation into the department of health’s Covid-19 contracts valued at more than R82 million is still under way.

“The allegations were that there were irregularities in the procurement of services by the national department of health of a certain company that was provided to do the communications work there.

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“But of course the allegations go further as we indicate that some officials in the department, you now, facilitated the process. The allegations as we’ve said is that the minister may have been involved in the process… those are the allegations and the investigation is under way. We are at a place where we can say that we are at an advanced stage and the investigating team has pointed to some of the findings as we speak.”

Mothibi further said that the SIU cannot disclose the details of the investigation at this stage due to legal risks, Jacaranda FM reported.

‘Digital Vibes’

In February this year, a report by the Daily Maverick’s investigative unit, Scorpio, emerged in the public, which unearthed that communications company Digital Vibes appointed Mkhize’s long-time personal spokesperson and his former private secretary as a consultant to work on its projects for the department’s communication services on Covid-19.

The KwaZulu-Natal-based company was initially appointed in late 2019 through a contentious closed tender to provide communications services for the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) roll-out.

However, when South Africa went into lockdown in March last year, Digital Vibes’s services were reportedly extended to include communications services for Covid-19.

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In 2018, the company was also awarded a contract from the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) when Mkhize was its minister.

Scorpio reported that Mkhize’s long-serving personal spokesperson and alleged family friend, Tahera Mather, got consultancy jobs from Digital Vibes after it was awarded government contracts.

After Digital Vibes won the NHI contract, the company also appointed Naadhira Mitha – a former assistant private secretary in Mkhize’s office when he was Cogta minister.

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe