More bad news for Mkhize as rapist, dirty lawyers linked to Digital Vibes

A convicted rapist and two disgraced lawyers. These are three people who have now been implicated in benefiting from the feeding frenzy that characterised the R150-million Digital Vibes illegally siphoned from the department of Health.

The looting spree happened under the political leadership of Zweli Mkhize, who himself has been implicated as the mastermind of the scheme at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed thousands of lives.

Sunday World understands that Mkhize’s former long-time ally, Tahera Mather, has told law enforcement agencies that convicted rapist Robinson Manzi was roped in as
fixer to minimise the damage after the Daily Maverick broke the story of the corruption that characterised the contract awarded to Digital Vibes.

Looters turn on each other

Colin Pather, an attorney who was struck off the roll for looting his client’s money held in his trust account, allegedly facilitated a meeting at the Mugg & Bean at King Shaka International Airport in Durban where Pather is said to have demanded R8-million be paid to Digital Vibes owner (on paper only) Radha Hariram.

Pather’s friend and learned colleague, Sumen Pillay, is said to have also attended this meeting – representing Hariram.

“During this meeting, Mr Pillay stated that he had been in a meeting with Ms Hariram prior to the commencement of our meeting and demanded I pay Ms Hariram R8 000 000, for which she will take responsibility for the allegations levelled against Digital Vibes in the media,” Mather says in her draft affidavit in which she seeks immunity from
prosecution.

“Mr Pillay further suggested that I should begin to pay that very same day and I paid R800 000 into his trust account… the trust bank account details of SP Attorneys were given to me by Mr Pillay. At this stage I was alone and confused and obviously wanted Ms Hariram to cooperate,” Mather said.

Pillay confirmed that the R800 000 was paid into his trust account but that this was not for what Mather alleges. He said the money was for the “return of monies stolen from Digital Vibes”.

A total of R2-million was also paid into Pillay’s trust account from Digital Vibes’ Nedbank account. Pillay also acknowledged this payment but said this too was the return of “monies stolen from Digital Vibes”.

Pillay also confirmed his friendship with Pather.

“Colin and I are friends from varsity days. Colin refers legal matters to my practice as he did with Hariram and Digital Vibes.”

He said the meeting at the Mugg & Bean was at Mather’s insistence.

“Whatever discussions the parties [had] at the meeting had been always about Ms Mather and Ms [Naafira] Mitha paying back monies stolen from Digital vibes,” Pillay said in response to our questions.

“I never facilitated an ‘illicit’ transaction.

“Furthermore, I never demanded Ms Mather pay Ms Hariram R8-million. Neither did Ms Hariram ever agree to take full responsibility for the actions of Ms Mather and Ms Mitha in so far as the Digital Vibes contracts with DOH [Department of Health] were concerned.”

Mather also allegedly paid R1.5-million into Hariram’s private account.

However, Mather said Pillay and Pather kept coming back for more.

“I thereafter received a telephone call from Mr Pather, who said he and Mr Pillay had spoken, and the latter wanted me to pay R16-million for all the allegations in the media to go away.”

In steps Mkhize and his lawyer

Mather said she and Mitha then drove to Mkhize’s residence in Willowfontein and informed him about what had transpired between them and Pather, Pillay and Hariram.

“The minister told me this was extortion and that it will not end, and we required someone to assist in dealing with Messrs Pillay, Pather and Ms Hariram.”

It is then that Mkhize is said to have given Mather the numbers of Durban-based lawyer Manzi.

Manzi is the father of Mkhize’s former spokesperson, Lwazi, who is now head of secretariat of the AU Commission on Covid-19.

“Minister Mkhize was of the view that if Ms Hariram was taken care of financially, all the allegations that had played out in the media would go away.

“Minister Mkhize was explicit that Ms Hariram should be kept close and that the story lines must all be integrated and that everyone ought to speak from the same hymn book.”

Mather said she then proceeded to call Manzi and they later met at the Beverly Hills hotel in Umhlanga. It is at this meeting that Manzi is said to have called Pather to arrange another meeting.

“Mr Manzi said to me that this cannot be allowed to happen to minister Mkhize as he is going to be the next president of the republic of South Africa… I distinctively recall Mr Manzi saying to me that we had to be nice to Mr Pillay and Ms Hariram because we needed to save Baba, in reference to minister Mkhize.”

A meeting between Pillay, Hariram, Manzi and Mather was then held at which the parties agreed Mather would be paid R9-million. The money would be paid into Manzi’s trust account and would then be transferred to Pillay’s trust
account.

“The payment was made on condition that Ms Hariram attends an interview with the SIU [Special Investigating Unit], which she ultimately did, represented by advocate Khuboni and Mr Manzi. Mr Manzi was required to brief advocate Khuboni.”

For his troubles, Mather said she paid R3.2-million into Manzi’s trust account after he demanded it for “professional services. To date I have not received a detailed breakdown of services.”

Manzi declined to comment, accusing this journalist of wanting to kill him.

Pillay confirmed he had interacted with Manzi but refuted allegations made by Mather.

“Mr Robinson Manzi was on record as being Mather’s lawyer and also informed me he was the lawyer of Zweli Mkhize,” he said.

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