GPF CEO Abel Sithole testifies at the PIC Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – Testifying at the Mpati-led Commission of Inquiry into alleged irregularities and misconduct at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on Monday, Abel Sithole, the principal executive officer of the Government Employees Pension Funds (GEPF), revealed that it was only last week that the GEPF became aware that they were ‘slipped’ in as a plaintiff in the PIC’s summons against AYO Technology Solutions (AYO). 

 

Towards the end of May, the PIC proceeded to issue a summons against AYO over processes regarding the R4.3 billion transaction that was made into the company, by the PIC. 

 

According to Sithole, the memorandum did not state that the PIC apparently issued summons on behalf of the PIC and the GEPF.

 

“Although I was aware that the PIC had issued summons against AYO, l was most surprised when I first received a copy of the summons on the morning of the 11" of July 2019 and noticed that the GEPF had been cited as a second Plaintiff.” 

 

“l have made enquiries, as best as I could in the limited time available and to the best of my knowledge, no one at the GEPF with the requisite authority authorised the joining of the GEPF as a plaintiff,” said Sithole. 

 

He said the GEPF would only act, once the outcome of the commission had been determined, before debating the issues any further. 

 

“Insofar as the summons issued in the name of the PIC and the GEPF jointly is concerned, I am currently making further inquiries how this came about and the GEPF will seek legal advice on the best course of action to adopt,” he said. 

 

Legal expert Zwakele Madonsela, from BZH Madonsela Attorneys, said on the face of it, it appeared, as though the PIC was trying to bully the GEPF into becoming a plaintiff, considering that there was a "dogged determination" on the part of the previous chairman, Mondli Gungubele, to force through a summons and a legal action. 

 

Madonsela was of the view that the current summons issued against AYO, holds very little legal weight if the latest revelations are anything to go by. 

 

“You can only issue summons if you have instructions from the client to proceed with litigation. You cannot just issue summons because you feel it’s appropriate without your client expressing concern. It may well be, that the attorneys acting on behalf of the PIC, instructed by the PIC, deemed it appropriate to add GEPF as a second plaintiff in matter. What is interesting is that it gave PIC and its attorneys no right to add GEPF as a second respondent without consent. Any party to legal proceedings needs to have given consent. However, those who have been added as plaintiffs can retrospectively, grant authority to proceed but until such a time that consent has been given by GEPF, as it stands right now, the summons has been issued without authority,” said Madonsela. 

 

Meanwhile, former PIC chief executive Dr Dan Matjila, returned to the commission of inquiry, where he continued to give insight on the asset manager's dealing with several companies. 

 

Matjila’s testimony follows his previous comments on how the Tosaco deal was handled, which involved controversial businessman Lawrence Mulaudzi. 

Matjila revealed how Mulaudzi had approached the PIC to secure funding for two businesses, namely Kilimanjaro Capital (Kilicap), which he was director of and, Tosaco.

 

Matjila was also, however, grilled by the Commission over technical aspects of his testimony given last week.

 

This includes him stating that he had not forced Mulaudzi's Killicap and Sakhumnotho's Sipho Mseleku, to form a merger so, as to stand a good chance to obtain funding from the PIC.

 

Attention was drawn to an email showing that he had made contact with the two businessmen over the matter, and stating the urgency of the transaction but, Matjila stuck to his guns and emphasised that he had not compelled the two men to form a partnership. 

 

The Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), has in the meantime, called for more transparency in matters involving the PIC board. 

 

It noted the latest appointment of the PIC board of directors, saying it was concerning that deputy Finance Minister David Masondo's decision for the board to be appointed, after the Commission concludes its work, was ignored.  

 

"The appointment of the interim board, is to use the popular phrase, letting a crisis go to waste," it said.

 

Matjila continues his testimony on Tuesday.


BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE