Health Department disciplines senior officials involved in Digital Vibes

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Department of Health has confirmed the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing against two senior officials involved in the Digital Vibes scandal.

According to the department, the Deputy Director-General responsible for Health Regulations and Compliance, Dr Anban Pillay and Head of Communications, Popo Maja, have been demoted one salary level and slapped with a final written warning.

This comes after Pillay, Maja and Shireen Pardesi were suspended last year following the investigations by an independent forensic audit firm and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the irregular awarding of the R150 million National Health Insurance (NHI) and COVID-19 media campaign contract, which was scored by Digital Vibes.

The Office of the State Attorney in the Department of Justice appointed an Independent Senior Counsel to preside over the disciplinary hearing following the findings in the report by the SIU on the dodgy contract.  

According to the disciplinary report received last month, Pillay and Maja both faced four charges and were found guilty on one and two charges, respectively. Meanwhile, Pardesi was accused of two charges and found guilty on one.

“As part of the consultation, the Presiding Officer requested the Department of Health, through the Office of the State Attorney, to make submissions into possible sanctions and allowed the legal representatives of the employees to make representations on mitigating factors, and allowed the parties to share notes where possible.”

“The chairperson considered the evidence obtained, his findings and the representations by the parties,” the department said.

According to the department, chairperson also considered the fact that all those charged were first-time offenders and no evidence suggested they benefitted from the transactions.

Based on all the facts, the Presiding Officer confirmed that Pillay would receive a final written warning valid for 15 months and suspension without pay for three months, followed by a salary level demotion for 12 months.

Maja has also been given a final written warning, valid for 12 months and a salary level demotion for 12 months.

On the other hand, Pardesi has been allowed to resign from the department with immediate effect. –