Monday, 17 June, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalEmployee in court for alleged ‘kickback’ from Digital Vibes tender

Employee in court for alleged ‘kickback’ from Digital Vibes tender

A Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) employee is on trial for corruption after allegations she received a R160 000 bribe that came directly from a R3.9m tender awarded to controversial communications company Digital Vibes in 2018.

Digital Vibes has been the subject of an investigation into a R150m Health Department tender, with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) finding the contract was irregular and unlawful and that former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and his family benefitted from the tender.

Lizeka Tonjeni, on trial in the Special Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria, was appointed project manager of the contract and, according to the state, accepted a gratification to further Digital Vibes’ interests, reports News24.

Tonjeni, who pleaded not guilty, said she was paid the money by Tahera Mather “for the sale of healthcare products” and as two loans to get her business up and running. Mather was once a spokesperson for Mkhize.

The SIU revealed that Mather was one of Digital Vibes’ indirect owners, although the company is registered in the name of Radha Hariram, a petrol station manager in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal.

According to Tonjeni, Mather bought healthcare products totalling R60 000 via six payments between December 2018 and December 2019, and also gave her two loans of R50 000 each in March and August 2020.

When prosecutor Advocate Willem van Zyl suggested that Digital Vibes paid her with the same money awarded to the company by MISA, Tonjeni claimed she was unaware of that.

The state previously led evidence that Tonjeni had never made any formal financial disclosure of remuneration for work done outside MISA, hat there was no record she had approval to conduct such work.

During cross-examination, Tonjeni conceded she hadn’t told her employer a company contracted by the department had given her two loans.

“It has nothing to do with MISA. It was between me and Mather,” Tonjeni said.

Tonjeni said she sold the healthcare products for Zija International, which offered her two options: to be paid a commission or receive free products to sell for her benefit.

Explaining away the lack of commission payments despite selling products to Mather, she said she chose to get the free products to sell instead of the commission.

MISA falls under the Department of Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and at the time, Zweli Mkhize was the Cogta Minister.

No allegations have been levelled against Mather or Mkhize in the Tonjeni case.

The trial has been postponed to April.

 

News24 article – State leads evidence government employee was paid kickbacks by Digital Vibes (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Mkhize says ‘no evidence’ implicating him in Digital Vibes scandal

 

Mkhize claims his prominent COVID role sparked Digital Vibes probe

 

Tribunal dismisses Digital Vibes beneficiaries’ bid to avoid scrutiny

 

 

 

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