PRETORIA – The PIC Commission of Inquiry into impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), continued in Pretoria on Monday with former AYO Technologies Solutions (AYO) executive, Siphiwe Nodwele, giving testimony about his time at the technology group.
Nodwele, who dodged a forensic investigation into his conduct at AYO by resigning last year, gave evidence in front of retired Judge Lex Mpati, about his version of events that led to his resignation at AYO.
Nodwele, who was employed as a chief investment officer at AYO, along with fellow executive Kevin Hardy, complained about the way the company was being run.
Nodwele is a former employee of EOH holdings, which has been implicated in a number of corruption scandals that saw its share price plummet to record lows over the last few years.
Before the commission, Nodwele said: “The purpose of the meeting was to address the grave concerns that we had in terms of the way the company was being run and the continuous interference of AEEI executives in the running of the company.”
In a statement, Nodwele said AEEI executives had displayed a lack of professionalism in relation to AYO and its acquisitions targets including 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.
However, insiders at AYO have alleged that Nodwele and Hardy resigned in an attempt to dodge a forensic investigation, which was commissioned by AYO’s board chairperson board, Dr Wallace Mgoqi.
One of the main accusations against Nodwele, is that he tried to secure a kick-back from one of the transactions AYO was to make.
In a statement, Mgoqi said Nodwele and Hardy were aggrieved that they had to report to AYO’s chief investment officer, Abdul Malick Salie.
In reference to the proposed transactions that would have seen the pair using a significant portion of the amount raised at the listing of AYO, Mgoqi said: “They were prepared to overpay; they did not wish to have warranties and there are strong suspicions that they may have benefited from such transactions.
“It is clear that they were either inexperienced in transactions or had ulterior motives for trying to push some of these transactions through against the advice of the AYO board and investment committee.”
Information from the company suggests that when the AYO board was reconstituted, at the insistence of the PIC to reduce the influence of AEEI and Sekunjalo, the new chairperson of the board, Mgoqi, insisted that the two executives sign a conflict of interest policy statement and indicated that due to their forcibly trying to get AYO to acquire overvalued companies, they should subject themselves to a forensic inquiry, in particular for one company.
According to AYO insiders, Hardy and Nodwele were trying to obtain 9 percent of the shares in a transaction that AYO was completing. Nodwele has since denied this claim in his testimony at the commission.
It has also been alleged that Hardy and Nodwele tried to extort from AYO, demanding a generous settlement well in excess of their remuneration package. Both Hardy and Nodwele received no money from the company.
Painting a different picture to the one of concern portrayed by Nodwele at the commission, Independent Media is also in possession of a series of WhatsApp messages between Nodwele and the chairperson of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, Dr Iqbal Survé, where Nodwele labels white people, such as Magda Wierzycka, as racists, claiming that he would have put her in a “body bag”.
In the messages to Survé, Nodwele said: “Magda really believes she is the saviour of black people who would be lost without her.”
In another message, he says: “Hi Doc, hope you are enjoying the long weekend. How are you keeping up with all this bullshit? I would have a few body bags by now.”
He then went on to state that “You are a better man than me”.
In another message, Nodwele says:
“Doc I do not want this thing to get out of hand and all I am saying is this PIC enquiry has changed the game. If you are comfortable then that’s fine but I do not want to spend the next five years fighting what happened at Ayo. The Whites are not fucking around on this and Magda’s name has been mentioned.”