CAPE TOWN – The Commission of Inquiry into alleged improprieties at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has denied that its evidence leader, Advocate Jannie Lubbe, instructed anyone within the PIC or anywhere else to “manufacture or manipulate” requested evidence.
PIC Commission said this in response to an article claiming that a leaked letter, written by suspended acting PIC CEO, Matshepo More, had revealed how Lubbe had instructed her and the board, management and staff to provide detailed information specifically related to nine groups of companies.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Commission said that the article made a number of unfounded and untrue allegations. “Contrary to the article the Commission has heard evidence from over 72 witnesses, including relating to Ascendis Health, Steinhoff and Kilimanjaro. The full list of witnesses and their statement is available on the Commission’s website(sic).”
The Commission denied knowledge of the letter referred to in the article. It said: “In addition to the investigations conducted by the Evidence Leader, the Commission is assisted by statements from current and former staff members of the PIC and members of the public, who may have information that falls within its terms of reference.”
The article alleges that Advocate Lubbe instructed the PIC to focus on companies that constitute a much lower value – about R22 billion in total – when compared with the more than R100bn that the PIC has lost to several other companies.
The PIC Commission of Inquiry, as well as the dismissal of the PIC board, was largely based on emails sent by whistleblower James Noko who implicated a powerful triad operating within Africa's largest asset manager.
Noko’s made claims of the presence of a powerful triad within the PIC, that involved Sibusisiwe Zulu who is Lawrence Mulaudzi's live-in lover. Mulaudzi owns Kilimanjaro and has a large interest in Ascendis. Others implicated by Noko were former chairperson Mondli Gungubele and More.
Independent Media, in a statement on Thursday, expressed shock at the inference and what it considers to be an attack by the PIC Commission, as an attack on press freedom in South Africa.
“The story was based on indisputable facts contained in a letter written to executives and the Board of the PIC by former Acting CEO, Matsepo More. The existence of the letter has been verified and Independent Media will, if necessary, release it to the public in order to substantiate the facts,” said Independent Media.
Independent Media said it stands by its journalists.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE