South Africa


SIU flags ‘corrupt’ payment into Department of Health staffer’s bank account

Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize. (Photos: Gallo Images /Darren Stewart)

The Special Investigating Unit has identified a transfer of R6,000 linked to the Digital Vibes contract paid to an official from the Department of Health. The department staffer allegedly helped process payments worth nearly R70-million.

The Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) ongoing investigation into the Department of Health’s (DoH) R150-million Digital Vibes contract has flagged a payment of R6,000 made to one of the department’s officials. 

Khubane Ngobese, who worked at the DoH’s headquarters in Pretoria, allegedly received the money in her personal bank account, according to a joinder application the SIU has filed at the Special Tribunal.

This is part of the proceedings through which the SIU is seeking to recover the proceeds of the allegedly corrupt contract. 

According to the filings, Ngobese received the R6,000 in May 2020. 

The money had been paid into her account by Composit Trade and Investments 02, a shell company set up and controlled by Tahera Mather, a long-time associate of former health minister Zweli Mkhize and the alleged mastermind behind the Digital Vibes scheme. 

(See also recent report by Scorpio: R1m from Digital Vibes deal bankrolled hair salon, nail boutique for Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, daughter-in-law)

Of the R150-million Digital Vibes had received from the DoH, some R20-million found their way to Composit Trade and Investments 02. 

The SIU has uncovered invoices from Digital Vibes that bear a stamp with Ngobese’s name and her position at the department. 

National department of health building in Petoria. Photo: Supplied

The stamp formed part of the DoH’s approval system for payments to the supplier. 

Ngobese’s stamp essentially paved the way for payments worth nearly R70-million made to Digital Vibes, according to the SIU’s filings.

Ngobese is employed as a senior administration officer and a personal assistant to Shireen Pardesi, a chief director at the DoH. Pardesi formed part of the tender committee that awarded the contract to Digital Vibes. 

In her affidavit filed in the matter, Ngobese claimed that she did not have the necessary authority to approve payments to suppliers and that she was unaware that the stamp bearing her name had been used for processing the transactions.

“Somebody is using my name unlawfully to ensure that Digital Vibes invoices are being approved for payment,” reads her affidavit, which makes no mention of the R6,000 she had allegedly received in her bank account. 

In an affidavit from one of its investigators, the SIU expresses strong scepticism as regards Ngobese’s denials. 

Zweli Mkhize and Tahera Mather in 2017.

“It can further reasonably be inferred that Ms Ngobese’s disavowal of having any knowledge of the stamp . . . is not true,” reads the affidavit. 

The SIU is alleging that Ngobese received money from Mather, via Composit Trade and Investments, in exchange for her role in ensuring that Digital Vibes got paid by the DoH. 

“There is no lawful basis on which Ms Ngobese may retain a payment that constitutes the proceeds of the unlawful transactions between the NDOH and Digital Vibes and that is moreover a gratification for her assistance in the facilitation of payment to Digital Vibes,” contends the SIU. 

Elsewhere in the filings, the SIU states that it is “reasonable to infer that the payment [to Ngobese] was made by Ms Mather with funds paid by Digital Vibes and laundered through Composit to avoid the obviously suspicious appearance that would be created by Digital Vibes itself making a payment to an NDOH official who had a role in the authorisation of payments by the NDOH to Digital Vibes . . .” 

The SIU is seeking to recover nearly R100-million from some 30 respondents identified as the principal recipients of the alleged loot. 

Mkhize and his son, Dedani, are among those identified by the SIU as beneficiaries of the allegedly corrupt deal. 

This after Daily Maverick Scorpio first revealed that some of the proceeds of the contract had been used for maintenance work at one of the former minister’s properties in Gauteng, while a larger portion of the contract had been diverted to Dedani and his wife, Sthoko. 

Ngobese sounded flabbergasted when Scorpio reached her on her cellphone. 

“I don’t know about it. I don’t know what they are talking about,” she said in response to queries regarding the alleged payment to her bank account.

Mkhize stepped down as Health Minister last month.  On resigning, he said that the SIU had erred in implicating him. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Alley Cat says:

    How sad… Ruin a career for R6 000?? MAYBE she could buy a plastic model of a Ferrari?
    So the SIU can uncover R6 000 but NOT VBS loot to all the parties implicated in the bank’s downfall??

    • Nick Griffon says:

      I know right.
      Priorities are so screwed.

      How Julias Malema and Floyd are still allowed in parliament is a disgrace to the rule of law in SA. If you can even call it that.

      Edward Kieswetter should stop threatening law abiding citizens and go ofter these criminals.
      Come on Eddie… do your job man!!!!
      Respect is earned, not deserved.
      Remember that.

      • Tim Price says:

        I agree that the bigger rotten fish need to be prosecuted, but the point is not the R6k, but rather how the crooks were able to obtain payment unlawfully via swiftly approved payments totaling many millions. Ngobese aided and abetted the theft of millions.

        • Nick Griffon says:

          Fair point. Nothing should go uncovered.
          However, if 3 big profile criminals go down and are sentenced to 15 years in jail, the “R6000 club” will not even think about doing it again.
          Cut the head of the snake.

          • Charles Parr says:

            In my experience every single fraud that was uncovered started off small and the thieves got bolder and bolder when they weren’t caught until the scale of it couldn’t escape notice. And don’t expect an audit to pick it up. 99% of frauds are uncovered as a result of a whistleblower or carelessness by the fraudster, i.e. expensive clothing and jewellry, living large, driving a car above one’s salary scale, etc.

      • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

        I suspect it is because jm and fs are employed and protected by the anc. They get used to divert attention when things ‘get hot’ for the party.

      • Jeremy Doveton-Helps says:

        An unforgettable high-school teacher of mine (one of those all-to-rare ‘life-shapers’) once told us:
        ‘One cannot demand respect, one must command it.’
        Never forgotten that.

  • Peter Dexter says:

    It seems far fetched that a person would jeopardise their career and reputation for R6,000. It occurred to me that she may have been set up as the “fall guy.” The ANC strategy usually involves a scapegoat so they can say “Something was done.” Look at the Gupta landing at Waterkloof Airforce Base. No 1 knew nothing! What if they intentionally deposited R6,000 in her account just in case it went pear-shaped. She should have reported the unknown deposit, many wouldn’t. Then they use a clone of her stamp to authorise payments? Conspiracy theory? Possibly – but if it is correct, it makes Mather and Mkhize’s crime more premeditated and heartless.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Quite possible. And this is yet another example of Afro/Indian collusion … is most of the fraud perpetrated by the ANC. Haven’t seen anyone brought to justice and jailed for the R1trillion theft of taxpayers money. Not one.

      • Aslam Dasoo says:

        Hmm. Afro/Indian collusion? Haven’t heard it put so prosaically before.
        Must be lovely to be European and pure as the driven snow, then. And so frustrating that these Afros and Indians didn’t appreciate the civilising values that the Europeans spent centuries trying to instil in them. All that effort for nothing. Why couldn’t they be more like the National Party or the Steinhoff paragons?
        Of course, it’s equally possible that your outrage is simply a vehicle for an underlying bigotry.

    • David Bertram says:

      That surely has to be the explanation Peter. No right thinking person would take R6k to process that huge amount.

    • Tom Lessing says:

      I agree, it does not add up. It is like it is meant to distract. Whether Ngobese is a victim or perp remains to be proven. However it shows a far more sophisticated web at digital vibes. Would there be legitimate reason for them having her banking details and paying her?

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    what is more astonishing is that these crooks are still paid a salary, or is that reward, by the taxpayer.

  • Pet Bug says:

    If R6,000 is enough to let R70,000,000 go through illegally – joh!! we are in trouble.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    Deny, Deny and Deny some more. how about some honesty from public officials and government leaders.
    we need a refreshing change!

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Hell of a waste of time and effort? R6,000 when millions are siphoned off? Why do the so-called big fish seldom get charged or arrested? Anyone checked SIU officials bank accounts? Only half-joking!

  • Nick Miller says:

    Prosecute her and let her defend herself by saying she was only obeying orders. This you are able to move up the chain.

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