South Africa - Pretoria - 08 April 2019 - Former Employee at Ayo Technologies, Siphiwe Nodwele testifying at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
PRETORIA – AYO Technology Solutions former executives, Kevin Hardy and Siphiwe Nodwele, on Monday gave the Commission of Inquiry into alleged improprieties their version of how things panned out with regard to the listing of AYO Technology Solutions.

Hardy and Nodwele appeared before the commission led by retired Justice Lex Mpati, assisted by Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga, immediately after the testimony of another former executive Siphiwe Nodwele, whom he apparently worked closely with.

He related to the commission how Sekunjalo chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé approached him, during his tenure at British Telecomms (BT) to ask him to consider joining AYO. He said his direct manager Kevin Taylor – president of BT Asia, Middle East & Africa – was very supportive and that BT would be more comfortable if he led AYO.

Hardy then went on to describe how unworkable his tenure was at AYO citing interference from other executives from other entities within the Sekunjalo group. He said was what led to him announcing his departure from the business. 

In his submission Nodwele, a former employee of EOH Holdings told the commission that executives at African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) had displayed a lack of professionalism in relation to AYO and its acquisition targets as well as lack of business etiquette.

He also claimed that the board was not independent and that there had been a complete breakdown in a relationship between AYO executives and AEEI executives.

Nodwele also submitted that Survé and AYO had threatened to bring a defamation lawsuit against him. “My integrity speaks for itself and I have received plenty of support from the corporate sector that has worked with me and knows what I stand for.”

A senior AYO executive previously said the reason Hardy and Nodwele, hastily left the tech company was that the board’s independent chairperson, Dr Wallace Mgoqi, had indicated that he would institute a forensic inquiry into their conduct.

AYO chairperson Dr Wallace Mgoqi, in a statement released after the commission adjourned for the day, slammed the statements made by Hardy and Nodwele.

Mgoqi, the PIC-appointed chairperson of the AYO board, said the board was concerned about some of the deals that Hardy and Nodwele presented for acquisition. He reiterated that when they were asked to to sign a conflict of interest agreement as well as be subjected to a forensic inquiry, they opted to resign. 

“They would more than likely have been implicated to have had a vested interest in their targetted acquisitions given the information that the board had at its disposal”, said Mgoqi.

Mgoqi said rather than subject themselves to a forensic investigation, the two executives tried to extort a settlement from the company by referring to the upcoming PIC Inquiry, which would make life difficult for AYO.

Mgoqi wondered why Hardy and Nodwele would fear a forensic investigation if they had done nothing wrong.

“When the company refused to give in to these attempts at extortion, Hardy and Nodwele decided to put together this fiction which they presented to the media and the subsequent PIC Inquiry. This would, of course, feed into the fake news which has been propogated by certain elements of the media,” said Mgoqi.

Dr Mgoqi challenged Hardy and Nodwele to subject themselves to an independent forensic inquiry. 

The commission continues today.