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SIU names 8 Health officials who should be disciplined for Digital Vibes tender


SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said that the corruption-busting body has made referrals to the department for disciplinary action.

File picturte

THE SPECIAL investigating Unit (SIU) says it has evidence supporting disciplinary action against eight officials in the Health Department in connection with the R150 million Digital Vibes contract.

In his report made public, SIU head Andy Mothibi named the following officials and detailed their alleged misconduct:

* Deputy director-general Anban Pillay;

* Head of communications Popo Maja;

* Chief director Shireen Pardesi;

* Senzeni Ngubane;

* Reginald Ngcobo;

* Director-general Sandile Buthelezi;

* Administration clerk P Ngobese; and

* Former CFO Ian van der Merwe.

The report said Pillay’s conduct in the National Health Insurance media campaign amounted to financial misconduct, contraventions of some prescripts of the Constitution, Public Finance Management Act and Public Service Act.

It said Pillay, who was also a member of the technical evaluation committee (TEC), should face charges of gross misconduct, gross dereliction of duty and gross negligence.

Similar findings were made in connection to the Covid-19 media campaign in his capacity as the acting director-general as well as fraud.

The report said it was alleged that Maja’s conduct undermined the financial management of the department as it continued to pay excessive amounts to Digital Vibes.

“Evidence was obtained that he failed to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure in terms of section 81(2) of the PFMA,” said the report.

Pardesi was found to have approved a request memorandum for payment of R35,906,450 to Digital Vibes on March 24 last year not in line with National Treasury approved amounts.

Like Pillay and Maja, the SIU found evidence she contravened the provisions of PFMA, in that she as a member of the TEC, grossly negligently failed to apply the required evaluation criteria correctly, which resulted in service provider Brandswell being unqualified for the tender.

Ngubane, also a TEC member, was found to have contravened the PFMA along with Ngcobo.

The report said evidence was obtained that Buthelezi, after assuming duties as the head of department, instructed that all NHI and Covid-19 media campaign related matters to be centralised in his office.

It said he contravened the provisions of the PFMA by allowing payments to Digital Vibes amounting to about R60m.

“In the circumstances, Dr Buthelezi should have conducted a comprehensive due diligence exercise before allowing such any payments.”

The SIU also said it obtained evidence that Ngobese contravened the provisions of PFMA by approving payments to the value of R69,428,952 to Digital Vibes without having the necessary authority to do so.

“No evidence indicating that she had the necessary delegations of authority to approve amounts paid to Digital Vibes was obtained,” the report said.

The report said evidence was obtained that Van der Merwe also contravened of the provisions of the PFMA for allowing payments to be made to Digital Vibes that were contrary to the National Treasury approved amount of R25,909,884, and also for allowing payments to be made without a purchase order.

However, only Pillay was implicated in fraudulent activity.

The report said evidence obtained found that Pillay made numerous material intentional misrepresentations to the National Treasury in an attempt to obtain belated approval to deviate from normal procurement procedures.

“The obtained evidence indicates that he committed fraud in this regard,” the report says.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that the corruption-busting body has made referrals to the department for disciplinary action.

Kganyago noted that Buthelezi has been suspended to date.

“We hope that all of this will be dealt with speedily,” he said.

He, however, said their investigations were continuing because they were now looking at new evidence that came to their attention after the report was given to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In fact, the SIU report makes it clear that its findings and recommendations could be amended.

“The SIU reserves the right to amend the findings and recommendations contained in this Report, should additional information and/or documentation come into its possession, or be presented to the SIU after the date of this report.”

Political Bureau

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