Digital Vibes, the communications firm at the centre of an alleged corruption storm over a R150-million contract from the Department of Health (DoH), made at least two payments to a contractor for maintenance and repair work at a Johannesburg property owned by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s ZLM Trust.
Digital Vibes also transferred at least R300,000 to a company owned by Mkhize’s son.
The latter payment was made in May 2020 to All Out Trading, an entity whose sole director is Dedani Mkhize (33).
Mkhize Jr did not respond to queries sent to him and to his wife. His cellphone appeared to be switched off when we tried to call him for comment.
Mkhize and the DoH were questioned about the payments for the property maintenance bills, but they did not provide feedback.
Our latest revelations seemingly contradict earlier denials from Mkhize that he had benefited from the deal.
“Let me categorically state that I have not personally benefited from this contract,” Mkhize said on Wednesday, 26 May, during a media briefing regarding the Digital Vibes matter.
Scorpio can reveal that Digital Vibes made two payments, one in June and the other in July 2020, totalling nearly R7,000 to settle invoices from an electrical contractor for work at an upmarket townhouse in Bryanston, Johannesburg.
At the time, the property was owned by the ZLM Trust. One of its three trustees is Dr May Mkhize, the minister’s wife.
“ZLM” appears to stand for Zweli Lawrence Mkhize.
Crucially, the minister’s surname and cellphone number are listed on the contractor’s invoices.
Responding to queries, Dr May Mkhize confirmed that the Bryanston townhouse was a “family property”, but she strongly denied any knowledge of payments from Digital Vibes for the maintenance work.
Mkhize said she was “shocked, to say the least, how maintenance of a family property would be linked to this irregular contract”.
“All matters that have related to the upkeep, maintenance etc were always reported to me. Just like any household we have attended to a few minor maintenance, electrical or plumbing issues over the years, but I have never requested Digital Vibes or any of its representatives to make a single payment towards such upkeep,” stated Mkhize.
She said a housekeeper would normally report any maintenance issues to her, after which she organised and paid for any work done by contractors.
“I am now taken aback that there were contractors who were paid by third parties without my knowledge,” said Mkhize.
She said she took this matter “very seriously” and would request that it be explained to her.
“But I want to categorically state that I have never ever had any dealings with Digital Vibes or requested financial favours from them,” Mkhize emphasised.
The ZLM Trust sold the property in February 2021, according to deeds office records.
It seems highly probable that the payments from Digital Vibes to the electrical contractor and to Dedani Mkhize’s company were directly linked to the DoH contract.
During the period in 2020 during which Digital Vibes made these transfers, almost all of the money the company received came from the DoH.
Its only other source of income were two transfers totalling less than R450,000 from the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), according to financial records.
These were the final payments for a communications contract that MISA, an entity of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), had awarded to Digital Vibes in 2018. At the time, Mkhize was the minister for Cogta.
Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha, Mkhize’s long-time associates and the alleged masterminds behind Digital Vibes, did not respond to queries. DM
Read the rest of our coverage here.