Carol Paton Writer at Large
Daniel Matjila. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Daniel Matjila. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila did not have a romantic relationship with a woman named Pretty Louw, but he did intervene inappropriately on her behalf at the behest of then intelligence minister David Mahlobo.

Advocate Geoff Budlender, who was asked by the PIC board to look into allegations around Matjila and Louw made by an anonymous whistle-blower, as well as the board’s conduct in dealing with the matter,  has handed his final report to board chairperson Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele.

The PIC is a key institution, managing about R2-trillion in pension fund money on behalf of government employees. It has come under increasing pressure to be more transparent about its investment portfolio and decision-making processes.

Budlender’s report says that “in the light of the denial and the absence of evidence that contradicts their denial, I find on the evidence before me that [Matjila and Louw] did not have a romantic relationship”. 

Budlender says that Matjila was introduced to Louw by Mahlobo, who had called him to a meeting at the airport to request Matjila to assist her and her colleague obtain funding from the PIC for their business. When she had called him later, asking for financial assistance of R300,000, Matjila had asked a recent beneficiary of PIC funding, Laurence Mulaudzi, to assist her.

Mulaudzi “understood this as a request and not an instruction, but felt under the circumstances he had no alternative but to agree”, says the report.

Budlender said that Matjila's request was “inappropriate”, but he acted as he did as he felt under pressure from Mahlobo.

Budlender also criticised the PIC board which cleared Matjila of the allegations after a cursory investigation in 2017. The board should have investigated the matter properly and dealt with it, which would have promoted better public accountability and confidence in the integrity of the PIC, he said.

Matjila was also at fault for failing to tell the board that he had been unduly leaned on by a cabinet minister.

Investigation had disproved allegations that the PIC had funded a company named MST, operating adapted buses or mobile units to provide medical and educational services, and that Louw had in some way benefited from this. 

Budlender found that while the PIC did fund MST to the tune of R21m, it did so before Louw’s involvement with the company. A second proposal put together by Louw on behalf of MST for the PIC was rejected. A third proposal put together by a third individual for corporate social investment (CSI) funding for MST of R5m was accepted by the PIC.

Even though MST said that Louw had nothing to do with the third successful proposal, it paid her a R438,000 “consulting fee” as she  “had invigorated the CSI discussion” and “they did not want to demotivate her”.