Digital Vibes: 18 people referred to NPA for prosecution

Among them is the health department's former deputy DG Anban Pillay who was singled out in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report, which was submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa in June.

FILE: Former Health Department deputy Director-General Anban Pillay. Picture: @LimpopoDepartmentOfHealthBophelong/Facebook

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News on Thursday learnt that 18 people linked to the dodgy deal with the national Department of Health have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority to face criminal charges.

Among them is the health department's former deputy DG Anban Pillay who was singled out in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report, which was submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa in June.

The report was only released on Wednesday and the SIU has since gathered more damning evidence against the officials and individuals linked to the R150 million contract with Digital Vibes - which benefited former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, his family and his associates.

Despite the damning findings against the former minister, the president said we must recognise that he somehow served the nation well.

Apart from Pillay, the list of names of those referred to the NPA for prosecution remain sealed for now.

The SIU could not specify how many among this group of 18 are government officials, family members or Digital Vibes employees.

The charges range from fraud, corruption and money laundering.

SIU's spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “When we do our investigation, which is purely for civil action, we also have to keep an eye on criminality and when we find it, we cannot just let it go. We have to refer it, by law, to our sister law enforcement agency and in this case, that’s the NPA.”

The national Department of Health is expected to hold a briefing at 11 am on Thursday where Mkhize's successor, Minister Joe Phaahla, will take questions.

SIU report into Digital Vib... by Primedia Broadcasting

'FOCUS ON GETTING VACCINATED'

The Department of Health’s acting director general Nicholas Crisp on Thursday said taxpayers should rather focus on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 than worry about how top officials in the department deal with the SIU's scathing Digital Vibes report.

The department said it had already started formulating disciplinary charges against those implicated in the scandal.

“But right now, we need people to get vaccinated, for the nation that is far more important than us sorting out our internal issue.”

Crisp said officials at the top were dealing with the implications of this SIU report, which he referred to as an "internal issue".

The SIU report has also recommended that Pillay be criminally prosecuted for fraud for lying to National Treasury to assist Digital Vibes.

The health department has scheduled a briefing in Pretoria for 11 am on Thursday where Minister Joe Phaahla and other top officials will field questions.

WATCH: ‘Mkhize served the nation well’ - Ramaphosa on Digital Vibes report

ANALYSTS WEIGH IN

Political analysts have slammed Ramaphosa for dragging his feet in releasing the SIU report.

The release of the long-awaited report comes on the back of the ANC’s manifesto launch where the party promised to crack the whip on corruption within its ranks.

Political analyst Sanusha Naidu said Ramaphosa released the report amid public pressure to do so, after sitting on it for at least three months.

Naidu said Ramaphosa needed to take responsibility for the corruption that happened under Mkhize’s watch.

"This is not state capture under the Zondo commission terms of reference where it was linked to the Zuma Presidency of capturing SOEs and essentially defrauding the state. The Digital Vibes saga happened under his [Ramaphosa] Presidency".

However, analyst Dale Mckinley said the President’s efforts to clean up the rot within government and the ANC must begin in earnest.

" The criticism is legitimate I think that President Ramaphosa has been dragging his feet on a range of different things. We should continue to put that pressure on him, continue to make him feel as if he needs to do more. On the other hand, he's fighting a range of political battles behind the scenes".

The Presidency has since called on government departments and state institutions to act on the SIU’s recommendations.

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