South Africa - Pretoria - 24 April 2019 - Bongani Mathebula at the inquiry into allegations of impropriety regarding the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
PRETORIA – The board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) permitted former chief executive Dr Dan Matjila to take charge of the investigation into the source of leaking of information at Africa's largest asset manager.

PIC company secretary Bongani Mathebula submitted to the Judge Lex Mpati-led PIC Commission of Inquiry yesterday that this was done without having regard to the evident conflict of interest by the chief executive.

Mathebula told the commission that other executives were implicated in matters of conflict of interest, such as the executive head of human resources, Chris Pholwane, who was later tasked with running all the disciplinary matters linked with the leakage of information.

Mathebula was later served with a letter of precautionary suspension for possible misconduct relating to leakages and dissemination of confidential documents such as PIC board minutes and management committee minutes.

“I still don't understand how (Matjila) and Pholwane could have concluded that I was the one who was responsible for such leakages,” she said.

Mathebula said after the James Nogu emails, Matjila started investigating the source of the leak of the information.

Executive head of IT Vuyokazi Menye and head of internal audit, Lufuno Nemagovhani were also instructed to have a criminal case opened in relation to the leak.

“I became aware of this instruction because they came to my office to request that I furnish them with a purportedly classified document with respect to an MST transaction. I could unfortunately not assist them as the original submission from the investment team was never classified in the first place,” she said.

Mathebula said during a board meeting on September 15, 2017, the issue of information leaks was delegated to the Information, Communication and Technology Governance Committee.

“This committee, however, did not take charge of the matter. Instead, the same executive management that was, to some extent implicated was tasked to deal with information leaks as a matter of urgency.

"This had the effect of involving management in a matter where they were clearly conflicted,” she said.

Mathebula submitted to the commission that an internal audit report regarding the allegations on the loan provided by PIC to Mobile Satellite Technologies (MST) was presented by Nemagovhani during a board meeting held on September 29, 2017.

She said: “During the presentation of the internal audit report it was evident that the internal audit did not conduct an evaluation and audit of the conduct of Matjila in requesting Lawrence Mulaudzi to make a payment of R300000 to settle the debt of Pretty Louw’s company.

“This was due to the fact that this aspect was specifically excluded by the board in the internal audit's scope of work to test the validity, accuracy and completeness of the documents submitted by management.

"I had difficulty with the board's approach that although Matjila had prepared a response to the allegations which the board accepted, those responses did not deal with the issue of him requesting R300 000 to be given to Louw.”

Mathebula claimed that Matjila’s submission to the board only reflected the internal process followed in approving the MST loan.

“It therefore meant that Matjila had not fully responded to all matters or confirmed the accuracy of some of the allegations, and the board still accepted his responses and declared the allegations baseless without independently testing same.”

This was one of the issues that had attracted press coverage and public criticism at the time.

This was because Mulaudzi is a businessperson who had received significant funding from the PIC in the past and whom one could reasonably say was dependent on future funding, submitted Mathebula.

The commission continues.

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