Anonymous whistleblower takes centre stage at PIC inquiry

The commission, chaired by Justice Lex Mpati, heard how the identity of a whistle-blower could not be uncovered. (David Harrison/M&G)

The commission, chaired by Justice Lex Mpati, heard how the identity of a whistle-blower could not be uncovered. (David Harrison/M&G)

On Monday, the judicial commission of inquiry investigating impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) heard how an investigator for the asset manager could not uncover the identity of a whistleblower by the name of ‘James Nogu’.

Nogu was the source of confidential leaks at the asset manager, including emails containing allegations that former chief executive Dan Matjila facilitated the funding of a business owned by a woman with whom he was romantically involved.

Naledi Advisory Services is a company which was subcontracted by digital telecommunications and IT company BCX to retrieve the emails of six PIC executives. 

Frans Lekubo, the director of the company, told the commission a forensic probe uncovered evidence of corruption against Matjila, prompting a case to be opened in October 2017. The case had been opened without the directive of the PIC on the basis and strength of the unknown whistle-blower’s emails.

In June 2018, Business Day reported that attempts to find the whistle-blower did not come to fruition because the South African Police Service decided it was more appropriate to investigate the whistle-blower’s claims than to uncover their identity.

“During the course of our investigation, we came across information that there was a criminal case against the then CEO Dan Matjila,” Lekubo explained, adding that the board then broadened the scope of the investigation.

Lekubo testified that Nogu was using a Webmail account, thus a subpoena would be needed to obtain details of this account from the company, a local email service provider.

It is not known whether the PIC took further steps to obtain a subpoena to uncover the identity of the whistleblower.

Lekubo further testified that as early as October 2017, head of IT security Simphiwe Mayisela had intercepted Matjila’s emails, gaining access to confidential documents which he saved on his computer, including documents about PIC investments.

The PIC paid its chief IT executive Vuyokazi Menye about R7.5-million to leave the organisation, while the organisation signed an acknowledgement that she had done nothing wrong.

Both Menye and Mayisela were suspended on charges that they had failed to inform Matjila that he was the subject of a corruption investigation by the police.

The inquiry, which began its work last week, has heard evidence that one of its transactions, that of Ayo Technologies, which is allied to media mogul Dr Iqbal Survé, saw about R4.3-billion invested — apparently without the most basic investment checks being made.

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Kiri Rupiah

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