The former head of IT at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), who left the institution after he was found guilty of sexual harassment and procurement irregularities, has dismissed those charges saying it was part of a “hack job” to drive him out of the organisation.
Luyanda Ntuane told the PIC Commission, headed by retired Judge Lex Mpati, that his professional life negatively changed after former chief executive Dan Matjila restructured the executive committee in 2014 and he began reporting to current acting chief executive Matshepo More, the chief financial officer (CFO) at the time.
According to Ntuane his work life started to take strain due to an unresolved conflict, which he does not know the genesis of, between him and More.
Ntuane said More would only engage with him by email. Through the entire period that she was his line manager, from 2014 to 2016, he had not had any one-on-one engagements with her. Instead, More would make sweeping criticisms about the work of the IT team, both in meetings and outside of meetings.
“I witnessed passing judgment about the performance of staff members, without even knowing their day-to-day operational responsibilities. This judgment was either negative or positive based on whether the CFO liked the employee concerned,” said Ntuane.
Not only did More undermine him professionally and not support him as a line manager, but Ntuane’s performance score was decreased while he was on leave, without any communication or justification.
Ntuane said More’s leadership was divisive and “created a great deal of distrust among the teams”.
In February 2016, before he was suspended, Ntuane said he was informed by a colleague that the executive in charge of risk had been asking suspicious questions about him and it appeared that “they” wanted to find a way to get him out of the PIC.
At the end of February in a 7am meeting with Matjila, he was told that he was suspended based on a whistleblower complaint that there was favouritism in the IT department. Ntuane told the commission that he was not provided with an opportunity to make representations on why he should not be suspended.
“In fact the suspension letter was not even handed to me at that time, it was instead delivered to my house later on that day by the driver of the PIC,” said Ntuane.
Over a month after his suspension, Ntuane was told to meet investigators at Bowman and Gilfillan where he was informed that the allegations against him mainly included the complaints of three anonymous whistleblowers. These related to procurement irregularities with three suppliers as well as an accusation of sexual harassment.
“Those suppliers I found at the PIC and had already been appointed by someone else. The only thing I did with them was approve their services,” Ntuane explained.
He said he was initially accused of showing favouritism to a particular employee. This was later changed to a charge of sexual harassment.
He said that any narrative around issues of misconduct against him likely came from PIC executives who wanted to discredit him to justify his departure from the organisation.
“I strongly believe this was fostered by the CFO and the executive heads which were part of the ‘inner circle”, said Ntuane, adding that More behaved like she was indispensable to the PIC.
“I believe that there is a personal vendetta against me from the CFO and this resulted in untimely departure from the organisation,” Ntuane said.
He accepted a settlement agreement from the PIC in May 2015 after Matjila told him that while the investigation against him was complete he would rather not take disciplinary action against him.
The commission continues.