‘We will not allow anyone to question our integrity’: SIU hits back at Zweli Mkhize’s son

31 July 2021 - 14:13
By amanda khoza AND Amanda Khoza
Health minister Zweli Mkhize with wife May and son Dedani.
Image: Supplied Health minister Zweli Mkhize with wife May and son Dedani.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has denied that it did not give the son of health minister Zweli Mkhize, Dedani, a chance to clear his name in the controversial Digital Vibes saga.

“His assertion that he was never notified about the papers shows nothing but lack of understanding of the civil litigation process,” SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said on Saturday.

Kganyago was responding to claims by Dedani on Friday that he learnt through media reports that the SIU had recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) consider charging him for corruption over “suspicious” payments from Digital Vibes.

“I am shocked to say the least that the SIU has not yet bothered to serve me or my lawyers with the court papers it has decided to file,” Dedani said in a statement on Friday evening.

“I have had to learn through a media article of all the goings on of an investigation I am supposedly a part of and their efforts to recover R3.8m that I have never ever received.

“I am concerned and disappointed in the manner in which the SIU has dealt with me 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.

“The SIU report relies on media reporting — 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 moment his involvement in the affair was alleged, said Dedani, “I voluntarily approached the SIU with the assistance of an attorney offering my availability to co-operate with the investigation process.

Dedani released the statement after TimesLIVE reported that the information was contained in court papers the SIU filed at the Special Tribunal on Thursday.

It is trying to recover R150m the health department allegedly unlawfully paid to Digital Vibes, a company owned by Mkhize’s close associate Tahera Mather.

According to the SIU, Mkhize received R6,720 from Digital Vibes, allegedly for maintenance at a Bryanston property, while his son received R3.8m.

These amounts allegedly amounted to undue gratification as there was no evidence they did work for Digital Vibes.

Mkhize and Dedani are listed among 20 people to whom Digital Vibes paid R90m of the R150m the company received from the health department under a contract the SIU contends was unlawful.

There was no reasonable evidence why the listed individuals received payments from Digital Vibes, as they could not provide invoices and supporting documents, the investigations revealed.

Kganyago said the SIU noted Dedani’s media statement in which he “puts the integrity and the credibility of the SIU into question, and claims that the unit made its findings based on newspaper articles. He further claims that he was never afforded an opportunity to clear his name nor notified about the papers filed at the Special Tribunal.”

Kganyago said Dedani also acknowledged having received money from Mather.

“The SIU would like to place it on record that Mr Mkhize made written submissions, which were thoroughly considered as part of the investigation. It can therefore not be true that he was not afforded an opportunity to be heard.

“Mr Mkhize is cited as a respondent in the papers before the Special Tribunal and he will have a further opportunity to explain circumstances under which the money was exchanged with Ms Mather. The outcomes of all our investigations are evidence based.

“We are therefore rejecting Mr Mkhize’s comment that we have made a predetermination on the matter. The SIU will always do its work with integrity, without fear or favour. We will always abide by the laws of this country.

“We will not allow anyone to question our integrity and impartiality without any valid reason. His assertion that he was never notified about the papers shows nothing but lack of understanding of the civil litigation process.

“The Special Tribunal papers are served on respondents after they are filed to prepare answering affidavits. As the matter is pending, the SIU will not comment further. We would therefore urge Mr Mkhize and all other respondents to respond to our papers at the Special Tribunal.”