SCORPIO

Exposed: Digital Vibes bought a Land Cruiser bakkie for Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son

By Pieter-Louis Myburgh 1 June 2021

Illustrative image | Sources: Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize. (Photo: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart) | Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, Dedani, sits on the used Toyota Land Cruiser bought for him by Digital Vibes. (Photo: Facebook) | Adobe Stock

Under fire Department of Health communications contractor Digital Vibes purchased a second-hand bakkie for Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, Dedani. This report follows our recent revelations that Digital Vibes had transferred money to Dedani Mkhize’s company and had paid for maintenance work at the minister’s ‘family property’ in Johannesburg.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh

Digital Vibes, the controversial communications firm that bagged an allegedly corrupt R150-million contract from the Department of Health (DoH), bought a second-hand vehicle for Dedani Mkhize, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son. 

Documents obtained by Scorpio reveal that Digital Vibes in May 2020 transferred R160,000 to a Pietermaritzburg car dealership for a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser.

The car was subsequently registered in Dedani Mkhize’s name.

According to photographs posted on social media, the vehicle has been put to use at a farm near Pietermaritzburg owned by the minister’s son. 

Digital Vibes bought this used Toyota Land Cruiser for Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, Dedani. (Photo: Facebook)

At the time of the transaction, the DoH had transferred roughly R50-million to Digital Vibes for contentious services related to the department’s National Health Insurance (NHI) and Covid-19 communications efforts. 

Besides two relatively minor payments from the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, an entity of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Digital Vibes’ sole source of income during the period in which it bought the vehicle was the millions it received from the DoH.

Digital Vibes ultimately bagged R150-million from the department from January 2020 to early 2021.

Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha, two close associates of minister Mkhize who played a key role in his 2017 #UnityCampaign, are the alleged masterminds behind the Digital Vibes scheme.

Our latest revelations come on the back of a recent report that detailed how Digital Vibes had transferred R300,000 to one of Dedani Mkhize’s companies and had paid for maintenance work at a “family property” owned by the minister’s ZLM trust. 

The payment for the Toyota Land Cruiser and the R300,000 transfer to Dedani Mkhize’s company, All Out Trading, occurred on the same day in May 2020, Scorpio has confirmed. 

Three days after the payment to the car dealer, the vehicle was registered in Dedani Mkhize’s name, according to documents we obtained. 

Soon thereafter, the vehicle started appearing in social media posts about Tusokuhle Farming, Dedani Mkhize’s vegetable and livestock farm outside Pietermaritzburg. 

A recent photo of Dedani Mkhize at his Tusokuhle farm near Pietermaritzburg. (Photo: Facebook)

In a somewhat bizarre response sent on WhatsApp, Mkhize Junior seemed to deny that the vehicle now belonged to him, despite the ownership records.

“That bakkie ur talking about ask Mapholoba about his gift from T [Tahera Mather],” wrote Mkhize. 

Mapholoba is the nickname of Andile Ngcobo, the farm manager at the Tusokuhle farm.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize with Andile Ngcobo, the farm manager at Dedani Mkhize’s Tusokuhle farm. (Photo: Facebook)

Mkhize Junior said he enjoyed a close relationship with Mather, but that it had nothing to do with the Digital Vibes contract or his father’s other dealings as minister. 

“If u had asked me I would have told u [that] Tahera is my person. We’ve had lots of fun together for years. She takes care of me and I do the same. She gifts me alot [sic] and other fine things, coz she’s always been rich and we just have a blast together,” reads Mkhize’s message. 

“My dealings with her are not business they are just fun and leisure. I promised her I’ll keep this a secret coz she always says she’s scared of comrade Khabazela [Zweli Mkhize]. Now this thing is messing up my life coz now T [Mather] does not respond to me cos u guys are chasing her,” added Mkhize.

Despite his close relationship with Mather, Mkhize Junior claimed that he had been in the dark about the Digital Vibes affair. 

“I know nothing about this vibes company that you keep telling me about. I even hate tenders coz I grew up and ppl gossiping and making up stories that we get tenders coz of Mkhize,” reads his WhatsApp message. 

Ngcobo also skirted the fact that vehicle ownership records confirmed Dedani Mkhize as the car’s owner.

“I’m unaware that the car is registered in Dedani’s name,” said Ngcobo.

However, he insisted that the vehicle belonged to him.

“No one else has driven around in that car but me. I drive the car daily and park at my home each night.”

When Scorpio pointed out that he did not pay for the car, he responded as follows: “Indeed, I never claimed to have paid for the car.”

According to Ngcobo, he did not only use the vehicle for work at Mkhize’s farm.

“I don’t use my bakkie just at Tusokuhle farm, I am a qualified agricultural consultant who has various clients who own farms that I assist in vegetable and livestock farming,” countered Ngcobo.

“I am not involved in politics and my livelihood comes from the agricultural consulting that I do. I have not been involved with any government health tenders that are now making noise and it would be really sad if I get caught up in this ugly story playing itself out in the public,” stated Ngcobo.

In what has become a standard feature in our ongoing reporting on this matter, Minister Mkhize, the DoH, Mather and Mitha all ignored our queries regarding the vehicle purchase.

At a press briefing held on 26 May regarding the Digital Vibes contract, Minister Mkhize denied that he or his family had benefited from the deal. 

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been probing the contract.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has stated that he will base his decision regarding Minister Mkhize’s future on the outcome of the SIU’s investigation. DM

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 32

    • He is like the on his boot when he walks out of his cattle kraal and no better than the gum at the bottom of his shoe when he disembarks from his second hand ride.

  • Michael Levitt, professor of structural biology at Stanford Medical School and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, recently stated, and I quote; “There is no doubt in my mind that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.” The relentless and opportunistic larceny by SA government officials is just a small part of it.

    • I can’t agree more with prof. Levitt. This was also the stance of the late president of Tanzania, mr Magafuli. He preferred Tanzanians to keep on putting food on the table for their survival. But hey, who are we to comment on this? It is not allowed by the SA government nor DM.

    • Please note that Michael Levitt is not an epidemiologist. He has very little expertise on disease spread, and he has admitted so himself. He joins a short list of Nobel prize laureates who ride on their Nobel fame to make dubious statements in unrelated fields. We all should be very careful of the halo effect.

          • All of it, apart from maybe the very last sentence. Levitt is an opportunist riding on the wave of his Nobel prize. He is not, and never will be, an expert in viruses such as Covid-19. So before questioning me, do your homework

    • Levitt is a NUT. He has been factually…FACTUALLY…wrong on so many issues related to the pandemic. I like the way his credentials (nothing to do with epidemiology) & award are tossed in, as if that gives him credibility on the issues of the pandemic. Please don’t muddy the corruption waters with corruption of science & pandemic misinformation.

      Seeing as you raised this alternative topic, let’s look at just one instance of Levitt’s own words:
      “US COVID19 will be done in 4 weeks with a total reported death below 170,000. How will we know it is over? Like for Europe, when all cause excess deaths are at normal level for week. Reported COVID19 deaths may continue after 25 Aug. & reported cases will, but it will be over.” And there are many more.

      We KNOW that COVID fatalities are vastly under-reported almost everywhere & the failure to act strongly against COVID leads to real horrorshows. US (Trump era). Brazil. India. Even Sweden.

      Eish!

  • …and on and on it goes, and the president is waiting for a SIU report, a so-called special unit. The only thing special about them is that they will be special defendants of the crimes committed by Mkhize, other members of the cabinet, and hundreds of ANC cadres in parliament, SOE’s, the NEC, and Luthuli House

    • Remember when Zuma boasted those businesses that support the ANC will be rewarded. Well I think a few comrades took it to another level.

    • SA is a serious contender, although we are a bit of a Mickey Mouse country. Read up on our BRICS countries and then decide who will be on the world’s corruption podium.

  • I remember at the start of the Pandemic how people praised Mkhize. He is such a noble leader with such a great track record and touted to be a contender for ANC president. it just shows how we normal people are yearning for a good quality leader. Time and again our noses have been rubbed in the sand. Wake up people, the ANC has corruption in its genes. Even ‘decent’ ANC leaders are corrupt to the core.

  • It is sad that we live in a country where serious criminal investigation has to be done by journalists, and not the police.

    In fact, it is the police that need policing. They appear to do everything in their power to avoid confronting any criminal issues.

    • It does not matter if one steals a bread or rob a bank. The principle remains exactly the same. You are still a criminal.

  • Despite the courageous investigating the Daily Maverick reporters do and all the expose, we see nobody either being charged or in jail. What a disgrace and a slap in the face of all the people of South Africa.
    Thank you for doing such incredible work.

  • what did our President say sometime ago, “We, the ANC, are accused number one.” and so it continues to be proven so! clearly the ANC see this as some sort of high commendation as they keep on doing it!

  • When the movie about the ANC comes out people will say this story must be fiction. BTW article in the Economist today about Zuma’s and ANC corruption. Nice one guys.

  • What has happened to the lovely guy who taught my son so much when he was in Kangwane? He has completely lost his way since he went into politics. He is/was an extremely good doctor who knew his Hippocratic Oath to which he swore. Where did he go to? How sad for the country.

  • This story is somewhat upsetting- Zweli Mkhize always seemed one of the better cadres/perhaps it is reflected in the much smaller than usual amount of money involved! Sad everything that is near the ANC gets touched by graft! It just seems like a law of nature!

  • SCORPIO

    Digital Vibes: Zweli Mkhize’s pal splurged Covid funds on Gucci gear, Smeg appliances and monthslong holiday

    By Pieter-Louis Myburgh for Scorpio