DURBAN – With Wednesday’s release of the damning report by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) into the matter involving the former national health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and a contractor named Digital Vibes, further investigations by Independent Media have found the registered address of the contracted company appears to be an abandoned and dilapidated house in a residential area in KwaDukuza, north of Durban.
Neighbours on the same street have said the house, which is registered as the Digital Vibes “office”, a company that scored a communications contract worth R150 million from the Department of Health (DOH), has been lying in an incomplete state for more than five years.
According to the SIU report, Digital Vibes was irregularly appointed by the DOH to run its National Health Insurance and later its Covid-19 media communications strategy. The report implicates minister Mkhize as well as several other senior officials.
Digital Vibes director Radha Hariram and Tahera Mather were listed on the report as close associates of Mkhize. Mather was also Mkhize’s strategic communications advisor in 2019.
Mather allegedly went on a shopping spree using funds from the contract from which she benefited in early February last year, when a company card was used at a Pick n Pay in Stanger, both Mather and Hariram’s hometown.
The largest of Mather’s Digital Vibe splurges appeared to be on her house in Blythedale, a well-manicured area on a ridge.
The Blythedale house, which is a stone's throw from Blythedale beach and across the bridge from the pothole-riddled streets of Stanger, on Wednesday appeared to be freshly renovated with stone-clad finishes and a glass door.
The area itself, which Independent Media visited on Wednesday, oozes ‘old money’ and seems to be a world away from other parts of Stanger, with a large canopy of trees to greet you at the entrance to Blythedale.
Mather was also implicated in transferring the proceeds of the DOH contract to Mkhize’s son, Dedani, who, according to the report, would pick up sums of cash from a service station in Stanger.
The registered address of Digital Vibes, a company that scored a communications contract from the Department of Health worth R150 million, appears to be an abandoned building in KwaDukuza, north of Durban. VIDEO: Jehran Naidoo/IOL Politics
The SIU report found that Mather informed Hariram of boxes filled with cash that the former minister’s son would collect from her, which happened on six instances. Mkhize's son would then collect the boxes at the Dawnside Service Station in Stanger where Hariram was employed as a manager. Shireen Moolla, whose husband owns the petrol station, cooperated with the SIU during their investigation by submitting an affidavit.
When Independent Media tried to speak to Moolla at the service station, she spoke via a cellphone call and said she had only informed the SIU that Ms Hariram worked there part time from February 1, 2020 until January 4, 2021.