Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

All those implicated in Digital Vibes report will be suspended by end of the day

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Sep 30, 2021

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All officials implicated in the much-awaited final report of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the Digital Vibes scandal would be handed suspension letters by the end of the day, Health Minister Joe Phaahla has confirmed.

This includes the department’s Deputy Director-General responsible for Health Regulations and Compliance, Dr Anban Pillay, who was the acting director-general at the time the Digital Vibes contract was awarded.

“By the close of business today, all affected six officials in the Department of Health would be served with suspension letters, pending the completion of disciplinary hearing process and formalisation of charges.

“The outstanding disciplinary investigations will require the investigators communicating with the SIU and with a procurement specialist,” Phaahla said.

On Thursday morning, he said the Department of Health had completed the review of the SIU report wherein nine officials have been implicated in misconduct.

He said three of the officials were no longer employed by the department.

“These three officials are employed by other government departments, and their DGs have already been informed of the Department of Health disciplinary process as part of consequence management. This simply means that the National Department of Health has been able to deal directly with the disciplinary process of six officials implicated in this investigation report,” he said.

The other three officials are employed at GCIS, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the Government Printing Works.

Phaahla said the department was “anxious” to conclude the disciplinary processes as a matter of urgency in order to bring these matters to closure in order to dedicate its time, energy and resources to the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seven officials will be suspended over the matter as director-general Dr Sandile Buthelezi was placed on suspension before the release of the report.

Phaahla said that the disciplinary processes were an employer and employee matter.

He said the report showed that whistle-blowing was one of the most effective mechanisms in the fight against fraud and corrupt activities, and it played a role in encouraging accountability, transparency and high standards of governance in the private sector and public institutions.

The department also tendered its “unreserved” apology to all South Africans for the saga.

“We fully understand the public concerns and interest in this matter because it involves allegations of misappropriation of public funds in the middle of the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, which has so far cost the country substantial unbudgeted funds, as well as people’s lives and livelihoods.

“Thus, we are committed to studying the report’s findings and recommendations fully, and act on the outcomes of the formal disciplinary processes without fear, favour and prejudice,” Phaahla said.

Political Bureau

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