Acting director general at GCIS Phumla Williams. Picture: Zintle Mahlati/IOL

Johannesburg - "She (Faith Muthambi) was cheating the State. I was being paid because she wanted procurement at all costs. She wanted to steal at all costs."

These were chilling words of the acting director-general of the government communications and information systems Phumla Williams who broke down in tears as she recalled her experience working with the former minister of communication Faith Muthambi.

She was giving testimony at the state capture inquiry on Monday. The commission of inquiry, headed by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, is investigating allegations of corruption largely centred around the infamous Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma.  

Williams said Muthambi had tortured her to such an extent that it made her relive her trauma of when she was tortured during Apartheid when she was a young ANC activist. 

Williams' difficult relationship with Muthambi started a few weeks after Muthambi was appointed the communications minister in 2014. The former minister complained about being unhappy with Williams' work. Muthambi also insisted that Williams address her as "Honourable minister Muthambi", said Williams.

In 2016, Muthambi stripped Williams of 72% of her responsibilities, which included all her managing roles, which were then directed to the then acting GCIS director general Donald Diphoko at the time. 

Williams then wrote a letter to Muthambi expressing her grievances, saying that she was not notified her functions would be taken away. She wrote this letter in an emotional state as she was being paid for a job she did not do. 

"This woman (Minister Muthambi) had ripped my scars of torture wide open. The effects of my torture were back. I was no longer sleeping. I had nightmares. I was reliving my situation, my facial twitches were back. 

"That removing of all those functions was a ploy to remove the finance and procurement away from me, they knew they had removed me from doing Cabinet work, I was going to be a nuisance and they decided that the procurement must be removed from this woman and that's basically what they did," said Williams. 

She said that her life was heavily affected by Muthambi's actions. 

"I had to contend with those scars back in my system, I could not say to anyone what I was going through. I had to be assisted by colleagues at work who made it their problem to come and check on me every morning. My sister had to move into my house because at that point I was scared of going to bed because the nightmares would come back. I started hearing those keys of my torture," said Williams while wiping tears from her eyes. 

She said this led to her submitting a letter to take early retirement, which she later recanted.

Williams said Muthambi's reign as the minister of communications had a devastating effect on the GCIS and that many crucial posts remained unfilled for months with Muthambi refusing to fill the posts. 

"Many people had to double-up in their functions. Many offices around the country remained unfilled because she refused to fill those posts," said Williams.

"It was almost like she was working against the State. They had this thing that they wanted to prove that the people at GCIS were not performing their functions," she said.

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