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SIU to join five companies 'linked' with Mkhize family in Digital Vibes review application

Web of payments to different entities

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize. File photo.
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize. File photo.
Image: Darren Stewart

The Special Tribunal has granted the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) leave to join five companies allegedly linked to former health minister Zweli Mkhize's family in its review application against the Digital Vibes contract.

The companies will now be added to a review application to declare the Digital Vibes contract unlawful, set aside and have the money paid back to the state.

In a ruling, electronically delivered on Wednesday, judge Lebogang Modiba ruled that the SIU's allegations against five companies who allegedly benefited from the controversial Digital Vibes contract met the test for joinder.

“The applicant is granted leave to amend the notice of motion in the review application... the applicant [SIU] shall file the amended pages of the notice of motion in the review application by Thursday 21 April,” Modiba said in her judgment.

Modiba, in a 24-page judgment, said the companies that the SIU sought to join presented to the SIU “inconsistent versions” regarding the payments they received stemming from funds from Digital Vibes.

Last month, the SIU filed a joinder application before the Special Tribunal as it aims to recoup funds from six companies it alleged had unduly benefited from the contract. Only one of the companies, Azwakele Trading and Projects, was not joined in the review application.

The ruling comes a day after parliament’s ethics committee cleared Mkhize of contravening the MPs' code of ethics in relation to the Digital Vibes scandal.

The joint committee on ethics and members’ interests finalised Mkhize's case on Monday and concluded he could not be held liable for his adult son allegedly benefiting from the Digital Vibes contract. It also found he did not breach the code over maintenance work done at his home amounting to R6,720.

The committee said it considered a complaint laid by DA MP Siviwe Gwarube in two parts — that his son is alleged to have received benefits from Digital Vibes to the tune of R300,000 and R160,000 and that Mkhize himself received benefits from the same company totalling R6,720 for electrical work done at his Cranbrook property in Bryanston.

The SIU had argued before the tribunal last month that Mateta Projects, owned by Mdu Mthethwa, which allegedly received funds from Digital Vibes had distributed it to All Out Trading, Tusokuhle Farming, Azwakele Trading and Projects and/or Sithokozile Khaliphile Mkhize, Cedar Falls Properties and Sirela Trading.

Tusokuhle and Sirela were allegedly linked to Mkhize’s son Dedani, while Cedar Falls was allegedly linked to Mkhize’s wife Dr May Mkhize. She was the sole director of the company. Cedar Falls was alleged to have received R1.8m. The money was allegedly used to pay the bond on a farm belonging to her.

The SIU had described in its joinder application an apparent web of payments flowing from Digital Vibes to several companies before ending up in the accounts of companies allegedly linked to the Mkhize family.

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