The Health Department is acting quickly to fix its battered and broken reputation, in the wake of the Digital Vibes scandal. A total of SEVEN officials – alleged to have illegally benefited from a contract that defrauded the taxpayer of R150 million – will be served with a letter of suspension at some point on Thursday.

Digital Vibes latest: Which Health Department officials will be suspended?

Health Minister Joe Phaahla, who inherited his new role after Zweli Mkhize resigned in disgrace, is ready to throw the book at those involved in blatant acts of corruption. It’s understood that Mkhize ignored advice to use GCIS as the communications platform for COVID-19 messaging, and pursued Digital Vibes ‘for nefarious reasons’.

The scandal has once again called into question the ANC’s ability to self-correct. Mkhize, who was all too happy to criticise the ‘PPE looters’ back in 2020, ended up throwing stones from a glass house. His colleagues Anban Pillay and Sandile Buthelezi are also named as two of those facing further punishment in the days ahead.

Minister Phaahla says sorry to the nation

Phaahla and his team released a public statement this morning, chastising every implicated official in the department. The minister also took the time to apologise to all South Africans, saying the DoH now needs to restore public trust.

“We note the allegations of financial misconduct against The Health Department’s DDG Anban Pillay. There is also possible misconduct from nine government officials, but there are six officials in the DoH who we may need to take action against immediately. That rises to seven, if we add the suspended DG Sandile Buthelezi.”

“The Health Department will institute disciplinary action against implicated officials in the SIU’s Digital Vibes report as a matter of urgency. All those implicated by the SIU will receive suspension letters by the end of today. For the public to have confidence in us we need to show them we take the SIU’s report seriously and act on it.”

“But remember, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. We will update the public on our disciplinary action as they happen. I would like to apologise to all South Africans for the Digital Vibes incident. We acknowledge the impact of this on the DoH’s public perception, and our capacity to provide a public service.”

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