Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office will lay contempt charges against Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize after his failure to respond to a subpoena on three occasions.
The case will be opened at Brooklyn police station in Hatfield, Pretoria, this week, according to Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe.
This is in relation to the the Clinical Associate National Task Team 2017 report, the recommendations of which the Department of Health is alleged to have failed to implement.
In a statement on Thursday, Segalwe said that Mkhize had been subpoenaed to give evidence on allegations which are being investigated by the Public Protector’s office.
However, the health minister had failed to present himself on all three occasions.
“Subpoena notices were served on Dr Mkhize on 4 February 2021 for his appearance before the Public Protector on 18 March 2021, on 21 April 2021 for 7 May 2021 and again on 24 May 2021 for 1 June 2021. He failed to present himself on all three occasions, with his office advising each time that he was unavailable.”
Mkhwebane said that Mkhize was supposed to respond to the subpoena – unlike an ordinary investigation meeting request – as “witnesses were obliged to comply with its provisions or face legal consequences”.
“It is critical for state functionaries to understand that compliance with our investigations is not optional.
“No less than the Constitution of the republic enjoins other organs of state to support and assist the Public Protector to ensure the institution’s independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness,” she said.
DA lays charges
The DA officially laid criminal charges against Mkhize over a R150 million contract awarded to Digital Vibes by the Department of Health.
The DA opened its case at the Cape Town police Station on Thursday morning.
Digital Vibes is the subject of an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) after Mkhize said the health department’s investigation found the tender bidding process was in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
It is alleged Digital Vibes is controlled by Mkhize’s former aide, Tahera Mather, and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, although the two are not listed as directors.
Mkhize has, however, denied benefiting from the contract or that Mather and Mitha were his friends.
SIU head Andy Mothibi on Wednesday told Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) the unit was still gathering evidence and hoped to be done with investigations before the end of June.
Mothibi told MPs the SIU was also investigating the latest allegations involving the Digital Vibes contract and they would soon call witnesses to testify under oath.
DA Shadow Minister of Health, @Siviwe_G is at the Cape Town Police Station to lay criminal charges against Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and Health Director General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi over the Digital Vibes dodgy contract. pic.twitter.com/qfQ35PFPlu
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) June 3, 2021