Former Health director Popo Maja makes brief court appearance

Popo Maja. Picture: Social Media

Popo Maja. Picture: Social Media

Published Feb 13, 2024


The former chief-director for communications in the department of Health, Popo Maja, made a brief appearance on Tuesday in the Commercial Crimes Court for his involvement in the corrupt Digital Vibes contract.

Maja is alleged to have played a key role in influencing the granting of a R140m tender after he personally bagged R15 000.

The matter which was on Monday set for trial, was postponed to March 20 for further consultation.

Maja is facing two counts of corruption for allegedly influencing the awarding of the tender to the controversial company, Digital Vibes, linked to former health minister, Zweli Mkhize.

Prosecutors believe that in 2019, Maja was paid R15 000 by the spokesperson of Mkhize, who ran Digital Vibes.

Maja was one of five officials who sat on the department’s bid specification and evaluation committees when the company was awarded the tender.

On Monday, a pre-trial hearing was held between the two parties before the matter was postponed to next month.

Maja was in September of 2021, placed on suspension, along with other Health Department executives, in light of their alleged involvement in the much publicised scandal which also implicated Mkhize and many others.

Maja’s suspension followed the release of a report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which implicated eminent persons in corruption related to a National Health Insurance (NHI) media campaign, and Covid-19 communications contract awarded to Digital Vibes.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made public the report which found that Mkhize’s conduct in appointing Digital Vibes was “at best improper … and at worst … unlawful”.

The report also contradicted Mkhize’s denials of benefiting from the tender.

At the time, Independent Media reported that the SIU received its detailed information about the contract from a whistle-blower who flagged potential “irregularities” in the awarding of the lucrative contract.

“It was also alleged by the whistle-blower that the minister had a vested interest in the appointment of Digital Vibes and that the appointment of Digital Vibes by the national Department of Health had been irregular,” the report said.

Furthermore, the report found that the procurement processes for the contract with Digital Vibes were irregular and void.

“In this regard, irregular expenditure amounting to approximately R150 million and fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to approximately between R72 million and R80 million was incurred by the national Department of Health,” it read.

The Star

[email protected]