PIC commission calls in the Hawks to scour cyberspace in search of James Nogu
CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s directorate for priority crime investigation, the Hawks, has been called on to help the Mpati Commission into alleged impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) uncover the real identity of James Nogu/Noko, whose emails wreaked havoc at the operations of the Africa’s largest asset manager.
This was contained in a response to questions sent to the PIC Commission of Inquiry investigations team after evidence leader advocate Jannie Lubbe told the commission that the investigation was now with its sixth investigator. Lubbe said the forensic team was also busy with its own investigation, alongside the Hawks – which targets organised crime, economic crime and corruption.
The forensic investigations team was optimistic that the identity of James Nogu/Noko would be established, although the evidence leader had told the commission that he had little hope that anything would come of the investigation.
Nogu has released damning emails, implicating several executives at the PIC, which threw the asset manager off course and resulted in the inquiry, where executives have parted with thousands of rand in legal fees trying to clear their names.
Top PIC executives implicated by Nogu who in the process had their reputations possibly irrefutably damaged include former chairperson Mondli Gungubele, former chief executive Dr Dan Matjila, suspended chief financial officer and acting chief executive Matshepo More and non-executive director Sibusisiwe Zulu.
Assistant commissioner Gill Marcus highlighted the importance of a report into how the investigations pan out after Lubbe said he would follow up with the investigations team to find out if there was any report.
“I think even if the question is, in terms of that investigation, the processes followed, who was asked to look into what, what steps were taken and why it has been in fact difficult to find the author or authors of the numerous emails,” she said.
After Matjila was instructed by the board to uncover Nogu’s identity, he roped in the PIC’s former senior manager of information security, risk and governance, Simphiwe Mayisela.
Mayisela said during his investigation that he established that one of the emails was composed using a client called Roundcube, which was a Webmail interface, and the email was last relayed by a mail server hosted in France. “We knew that it was hosted in France based on the IP address that we found. This IP address was found to belong to a French Internet service provider called Online SAS.”
Mayisela said investigations by security engineer Timothy Marobana showed that another of the emails sent by Nogu was sent from a location that could be identified as Interface Holdings, located at number 25 West Street, Houghton, Johannesburg. “So, Interface Holdings, also known as iFace, is an integrated online media company that houses digital brands, including Webmail.”
Mayisela recommended that the PIC obtain a Section 205 (of the Criminal Procedure Act) subpoena, that should be served to both service providers to get the true source IP address, as well as the sender details, and this would require a case to be opened with the SAPS.
A case was opened at the Brooklyn police station. However, Lubbe did not comment on questions as to whether the forensic investigators had explored the option outlined by Mayisela.
The search continues.