Not just Mkhize: 8 other officials implicated in SIU's Digital Vibes report

Dr Anban Pillay cited in report as key player who violated the Public Finance Management Act to ensure Digital Vibes scored tenders from the department

30 September 2021 - 12:30
The SIU found that Dr Anban Pillay, among others, should be charged for 'financial misconduct'.
The SIU found that Dr Anban Pillay, among others, should be charged for 'financial misconduct'.
Image: Robert Tshabalala

Eight officials are implicated in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report in connection with the R150m contract awarded to Digital Vibes. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa approved the publication of the report on Wednesday, which investigated the awarding of National Health Insurance (NHI) media campaigns and the subsequent Covid-19 communications tender to Digital Vibes while former health minister Zweli Mkhize was in charge.

Here are eight officials who are implicated in the scandal, according to the report:

Dr Anban Pillay

Pillay is cited in the report as a key player who violated the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to ensure Digital Vibes scored tenders from the department

In his capacity as acting director-general and a member of the technical evaluation committee (TEC), he was found to have attempted to irregularly appoint Tahera Mather, the alleged owner of Digital Vibes and “close associate” of Mkhize.

The report found that he should be charged for offences including financial misconduct, fraud, gross dereliction of duty and gross negligence.

Popo Maja

The head of communications and a TEC member, Maja approved payments to Digital Vibes which were not in line with the National Treasury's approved budget.

“Evidence was obtained that he contravened the provisions of section 45 of the PFMA in that he as a member of the TEC, grossly negligently failed to apply the required evaluation criteria correctly, fairly and consistently,” says the report. 

These contraventions led Brandswell, a company that was competing with Digital Vibes for the tender, to “fail” to achieve the 60% compliance threshold required before the rewarding of the tender.

Shireen Pardesi

The former TEC member and chief director authorised an irregular payment of R35m to Digital Vibes on March 24 2020. This payment was not in line with the National Treasury's approved amount, resulting in unauthorised/irregular payments to the company.

She also failed to apply the evaluation criteria which undercut Brandswell from getting the tender.

P Ngobese

The former assistant of Pardesi and administration clerk at the national department of health contravened the PFMA by approving payments of over R69m to Digital Vibes despite not having the authority to do so.

“No evidence indicating that she had the necessary delegations of authority to approve amounts paid to Digital Vibes, was obtained,” says the report.

Ian van der Merwe 

The CFO of the department also violated the PFMA by approving the payments to Digital Vibes that were “contrary” to the approved R25m. He also allowed payments to be made to Digital Vibes without a purchase order required in terms of the procurement policy. 

Sandile Buthelezi

The suspended director-general approved payments amounting to R60m to Digital Vibes, in contravention of the PFMA.

“Dr Buthelezi should have conducted a comprehensive due diligence exercise before allowing any such payments.”

Reginald Ngcobo

The TEC member failed to apply the evaluation which resulted in an unfair undercutting of Brandswell from the tender bidding process after the company was unfairly found to have failed to meet the 60% threshold for compliance.

Senzeni Ngubane

The TEC member failed to apply the evaluation which resulted in an unfair undercutting of Brandswell from the tender bidding process after the company was unfairly found to have failed to meet the 60% threshold for compliance.


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