SOUTH AFRICA - PRETORIA - 26 February 2019 - Justice Lex Mpati with his assistants Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga at the PIC Commission of Enquiry. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
PRETORIA – As the Public Investment Corporation Commission (PIC) of Inquiry entered day three, PIC director Sandra Beswick revealed how an onslaught of media attacks intensified to discredit erstwhile chief executive Dr Dan Matjila.

Beswick said misinformation and leakage of confidential information abounded which was probably propagated and exacerbated by disgruntled employees who had been either dismissed or suspended. 

She said there were unconfirmed suspicions that suspended company secretary, Bongani Mathebula, was suspected to have been leaking PIC information.

“The sources of the renewed media attacks were unclear, however, the campaign was mainly directed at discrediting the then chief executive Dr Dan Matjila. These media attacks prompted the United Democratic Movement (UDM) to launch a court application, she said. 

“At the board meeting of 22nd June 2018 to discuss the UDM court application, the chairperson spent an inordinate amount of time reading from the minutes of the board meetings of the and September 15 and 29, 2017. 

“He berated the board on the decision taken to, firstly conduct an internal verification process on the MST matter and secondly, to clear the chief executive of any wrongdoing. He also expressed his concern that the board had allowed the chief executive and chief financial officer to state their case,” she said. 

Beswick said it became evident that the chairperson was dissatisfied with the process that had been followed “and I felt he was trying to pressurise (one of the members likened it to an ambush) us to reopen the matter and commission an external forensic investigation despite the findings exonerating the chief executive of wrongdoing relating to the Pretty Louw investment application”. 

Beswick said: “The majority of the board, including myself, disagreed with this recommendation because we were satisfied that we had properly considered the allegations. Our decision to conduct an internal process and the resultant outcome confirmed this decision. 

“In a nutshell, the PlC’s internal investment approval processes had been followed correctly and the Pretty Louw application had been rejected. The distrust among board members including the chairperson resulted in further divisions and meetings became disjointed and confrontational especially on issues around Matjila. 

“Special board meetings became the norm under Gungubele’s chairpersonship and lasted a good couple of hours becoming arduous and fragmented. They were scheduled at short notice often commencing at unsociable hours. Documents were not always circulated timeously thereby not allowing board members sufficient time to review them. 

Beswick also said at some of the meetings it appeared that Sibusisiwe Zulu, a PIC director, was driving the proceedings, ie acting as defacto chairperson, adding that some members of the board were afforded time to state their case while others were curtailed from voicing their opinions.”