Digital Vibes: Special Tribunal reserves judgment in SIU’s joinder application

Digital Vibes: Special Tribunal reserves judgment in SIU’s joinder application

The Special Tribunal on Tuesday reserved judgment in the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) joinder application, as the unit seeks to recover millions of rand from six entities and individuals who allegedly received money from the Department of Health’s unlawful contract awarded to Digital Vibes.

SIU versus Digital Vibes

Joinder application

The matter was before Judge Lebogang Modiba, who heard arguments virtually from the legal representatives of the companies and individuals implicated in the SIU’s investigations into the R150 million contract awarded to former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s close associates.

Mkhize stepped down last year after the SIU submitted its damning report to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The report found that Mkhize and his family personally benefited from the multi-million rand tender, which was for the health department’s National Health Insurance (NHI) communication work and later, Covid-19 media campaigns.

Mkhize has taken the SIU’s report on legal review, claiming that his submissions and evidence were not taken into account by the unit.

‘Impugned transactions’

During Tuesday’s proceedings at the Special Tribunal, Advocate Barry Roux, acting on behalf of the SIU, detailed the basis of the SIU’s joinder application.

He said the SIU wanted to admit the six entities and individuals to its main application because they allegedly had a legal interest in the subject matter of the SIU’s main application before the tribunal.

Roux argued that the SIU was seeking to hold the respondents – which include All Out Trading (Pty) Ltd, Cedar Falls Properties 34 (Pty) Ltd and others – liable for monies they received from the health department’s “impugned transactions” arising out the Digital Vibes contract.

“In addition, the joining respondents have a direct and substantial interest in the matter going beyond a mere commercial interest because the SIU has alleged that the payments that they received constituted gratifications directly benefiting the family members of the fifth respondent in the main application, the former minister of health.

“The payments were thereby intended for the indirect gratification of the former minister who is alleged to have played a role in the unlawful appointment of Digital Vibes,” Roux said in his heads of argument.

The SIU also submitted that the joinder application should be granted with costs, including the costs of two counsel.

Criticisms

Advocate John Pammenter, acting on behalf of Cedar Falls Properties 34, criticised the SIU for the approach it adopted to their case for the joinder of Cedar Falls in the main application.

Pammenter argued that the unit’s affidavits and reasons for the joinder application did not disclose a cause of action against his client.

“In the circumstances, it is submitted that the joinder application should be dismissed with costs,” he said.

Judge Modiba thanked the parties for the assistance in the case and reserved judgment in the matter.

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