The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has been granted an order to freeze R22 million held in bank accounts linked to Digital Vibes (Pty) Ltd or to individuals and other entities that received payments from the firm
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said that although the SIU investigation into the Department of Health’s appointment of Digital Vibes was ongoing, the preliminary investigations had allegedly revealed evidence exposing “two highly irregular and unlawful transactions”.
The first transaction was a procurement process in 2019 in terms of which Digital Vibes was appointed to perform communications services relating to the National Health Insurance (NHI). The second transaction occurred in 2020 during the tenure of the first transaction when Digital Vibes was ‘appointed’ in respect of a Covid-19 awareness campaign without any competitive bidding or other procurement process at all.
“The Covid-19 awareness campaign was merely brought-in as an extension to the contract between the Department and Digital Vibes in respect of the NHI media campaign, in circumstances where such an extension was irregular and unlawful,” Kganyago alleged.
He said the department had utilised the budget allocated for the NHI contract and NHI media campaign to pay for the purported Covid-19 media campaign work allegedly performed by Digital Vibes.
“The Department paid a total of approximately R150 million to Digital Vibes, approximately R 25 million of which was paid in respect of the NHI media campaign and approximately R125 million in respect of the Covid-19 appointment,” he said.
He said the SIU had been granted a preservation order in the Special Tribunal to freeze the sum of approximately R 22 million held in bank and investment accounts linked to Digital Vibes (Pty) Ltd (Digital Vibes) or linked to entities/individuals who received payments from the firm.
The Special Tribunal Order prohibits Digital Vibes, Tahera Mather, Naadhira Mitha, Suhaila Mather, Suhaila Mather Consulting (Pty) Ltd, Amods Attorneys, WT Graphics and Designs (Pty) Ltd, and Strategeewhiz (Pty) Ltd from dealing with the funds held in the relevant bank and investment accounts in any manner.
He said that based on the information presented by the SIU investigating team and information sourced by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), between 4 and 14 June 2021, the FIC issued intervention directions under Section 34 of the FIC Act to place a hold on approximately R22 million worth of funds derived from the money the department had paid to Digital Vibes, for a period of 10 working days.
The SIU approached the Special Tribunal for preservation order / interdict to freeze the accounts following an investigation into allegations of unlawful and/or irregular procurement of Covid-19 communication services by the department.
“The SIU will launch review proceedings in the Special Tribunal within the next 30 working days, and also seek an order against Digital Vibes and other relevant entities/individuals to pay back all financial losses suffered by the State as consequence of the appointment of Digital Vibes,” he said.
“Despite civil legal outcomes, the SIU investigation into the affairs of the Department is ongoing. In line with the SIU Act, evidence pointing to criminal conduct will be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action, and the SIU will refer evidence in support of disciplinary, administrative and/or executive actions to the relevant authorities for further action,” he said.
Fraud and corruption allegations may be reported via the following platforms: [email protected] / Hotline: 0800 037 774