I did not spy on PIC employees, Matjila tells PIC commission

Former PIC CEO Dan Matjila says that activities at the PIC had been put under the microscope following the infamous “James Nogu” emails circulated in September 2017. (David Harrison/M&G)

Former PIC CEO Dan Matjila says that activities at the PIC had been put under the microscope following the infamous “James Nogu” emails circulated in September 2017. (David Harrison/M&G)

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive, Dan Matjila’s time at the helm of the state asset manager has been plagued with allegations of corruption, maladministration, fear and intimidation by current and former employees at the company.

On the eighth day of his highly anticipated testimony at the PIC commission — chaired by retired Supreme Court Judge, Lex Mpati — Matjila shot down allegations that he led a “reign of terror” during his time as the PIC’s chief executive.

The commission is probing allegations of impropriety and governance failures at Africa’s largest fund manager.

Matjila says that activities at the PIC had been put under the microscope following the infamous “James Nogu” emails circulated in September 2017. The anonymous emails alleged, among under things, that Matjila had used his position as the PIC’s head to channel funds to his alleged girlfriend, Pretty Louw — something which he has consistently denied during his testimony at the commission.

Suspecting that the emails were an inside job, the former CEO instructed the then head of IT at the PIC, Simphiwe Mayisela to investigate how intricate details of various transactions conducted by the PIC, including involving Mobile Satellite Technology (MST), Ascendis Health and Tosaco ended up in the hands of the media.

Matjila says that he was motivated to investigate the leaks because “there was a clear and obvious risk to R2-trillion worth of client assets if the PIC’s systems could be compromised.”

The PIC’s internal IT team was only able to uncover that the leaks had come from a kiosk in Sandton but were unable to identify the source of the anonymous emails. Matjila then appointed an external firm, BCX to get to the heart of the leaks.

Four of the PIC’s departments, the Company Secretariat, IT, Risk and Legal were identified by Matjila and BCX as being the areas where the leaks were most likely to have originated.

Matjila said these investigations received mixed responses from those who were being investigated, with some responding immaturely. “I had no desire to spy on PIC employees,” he says.

“Why were they saying you were spying on them? Some of them were adamant that you were spying on them,” asked the commission’s assistant, Emmanuel Lediga.

“I don’t know what is the nature of the spying because really all we did was to scan email correspondence to Mimecast,” Matjila responded.

Matjila says that he and the suspended PIC chief financial officer, Matshepo More continued to be “harassed” by “Nogu” during the investigations by BCX. He says that he first learnt that he was being investigated for corruption by the Hawks following the release of the first report into the leaks by BCX which was handed over to him in late September 2017. The report showed that Mayisela, who was in charge of the PIC’s internal investigations into the leaks, had opened a case of corruption against him.

Matjila singled out Mayisela as being part of the campaign to oust him from the company.

“He [Mayisela] has continued to provide the SAPS with the PIC’s confidential information,” Matjila said. 

Thando Maeko

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