Payments were ‘facilitated by former minister’s associate Tahera Mather’

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize allegedly received multi-million rand payments from Digital Vibes after the company was awarded a R150-million communications tender by his former department.

Sunday World has it on good authority that the payments were in addition to approximately R20-million that had already been set aside for the embattled politician’s bid for the ANC presidency.

Some of the payments were allegedly handed directly to the troubled ANC heavyweight while others were channeled through several companies whose account numbers were provided by Mkhize to his former associate and comrade Tahera Mather, who was a key figure behind the establishment of Digital Vibes.

Sunday World has seen a draft affidavit in which Mather discloses the payments in minute detail as she explains why she did not for a moment hesitate to comply whenever Mkhize issued a directive for the money to be paid to several companies or whenever he requested money to be delivered in cash.

The affidavit confirms some of the alleged payments which Daily Maverick previously reported about.

The relationship, according to the information at our disposal, was one where Mather would accept any instruction from Mkhize.

Mather and Mkhize’s former personal assistant Naadhira Mitha are believed to be cooperating with law enforcement agencies as investigations into the R150-million Digital Vibes scandal escalate.

Mather and Mitha are represented by Ntanga Nkuhlu Inc Attorneys who have instructed the former national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams to act on behalf of Digital Vibes when the matter goes to court. Mongezi Ntanga, who represents the two women, yesterday said his clients are not willing to comment.

Mkhize’s communication adviser Vuyo Mkhize failed to respond.

Some of the money, which all originated from the service level agreement between Digital Vibes and the Department of Health and which was allegedly paid to Mkhize, included the following:

  • During December 2019 Mkhize allegedly received R230 000 from Mather.
  • In February 2020, Mather allegedly handed R90 000 in cash that she obtained from Mitha to Mkhize at his Bryanston home in the north of Johannesburg.
  • On 14 February 2020, at Mather’s request, Mitha handed Mkhize R50 000 in cash after she drove to OR Tambo International Airport where she handed the money over at the VIP arrivals parking area. Mitha was still Mkhize’s PA at the time.
  • Mkhize also allegedly requested a minimum of R150 000 be paid to his son Dedani’s farm every month, as Dedani could not afford to pay farmworkers on time. This payment, according to the draft affidavit, was over and above the other transactions and they all ran from the end of May 2020 until February 2021.

According to information, Mather would ordinarily call one of her Digital Vibes associates to ensure the delivery of the money to Dedani in Pietermaritzburg. In some instances, the associate’s son would hand the money over.

Both Mather and Mitha are said to have revealed that they never knew what the payments to Dedani were for and only established this when the media article broke in the Daily Maverick, which was the first to break the story early in 2021.

  • Some of the other revelations include an amount of R160 000 that was handed in cash to Mkhize in Pietermaritzburg on June 6, 2020.

WhatsApp trail fingers Mkhize

WhatsApp messages, bank records, and statements form part of crucial evidence pointing to former minister of health Zweli Mkhize’s deep involvement in the exchange of money that flowed from Digital Vibes bank accounts.

Some of the WhatsApp messages between Mkhize associates Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha referred to Mkhize as the “grandfather” while Mkhize would refer to his son Dedani as “laities” and use the phrase “600 pamphlets” in reference to R600 000 he would request from Mather.

On December 11 2020, Mkhize contacted Mather via a WhatsApp message in which he stated: “Hi how are you Can you spare 250 pamphlets. There are still a few issues when are you back.”

The 250 pamphlets actually meant R250 000.

Recalling how the alleged corruption and money laundering began, Mather alleges that after the award of the tender to Digital Vibes, Mkhize sat her down and told her that they needed to put money away for this year’s ANC national elective conference.

Mkhize apparently told her he intended to once again run for the presidency of the ANC and of the country and the campaign would be intense.

In that regard, lots of money would be required to mobilize and consolidate support at the branch level leading up to the December conference.

Mather consequently decided to open investment “vehicles to put aside money for both minister Mkhize’s campaign and for my retirement savings…  At some stage, minister Mkhize asked me whether I had put any money away as yet for his campaign.

“At that stage, I had invested quite a bit of money and off the cuff responded to the minister by informing him that I at that stage had roughly put away R20-million. Minister Mkhize expressly asked me to hold on to that money as we were going to need it.”

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