Dan Matjila, previous CEO of the Public Investment Corporation. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/JAMES OATWAY
Dan Matjila, previous CEO of the Public Investment Corporation. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/JAMES OATWAY

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila appeared to be hell bent on establishing the identity of the person behind the anonymous e-mails that implicated him and other directors of malfeasance.

This is according to the testimony provided by the PIC’s former executive head for IT, Vuyokazi Menye, to the inquiry into affairs and governance of the PIC, given on Wednesday.

Menye was employed at the PIC from November 17 2016 until she was suspended a year later on November 20 2017.

Describing one interaction with Matjila in his office, Menye said, “He asked me from a technical perspective if I could assist in identifying where the e-mails were coming from and who sent them. He stated clearly that he wanted to teach the person who sent those e-mails a lesson.”

The e-mails, sent from the account of a “James Nogu” to employees, made a number of allegations against Matjila, including that he improperly arranged for a loan for an acquaintance of former cabinet minister David Mahlobo.

Menye described how Matjila arranged for Naledi Advisory Services to assist in investigating the leaks at the company. This was later augmented by IT company BCX, together with SensePost, which was tasked with conducting an “information security assessment”.

“He advised us that the information security assessment was an instruction from the board of the PIC,” said Menye.

Matjila then instructed Menye not to communicate via e-mail with him, but rather verbally or telephonically. She ignored this instruction and continued to express her concern over risks to the IT system that could arise from the assessment.

Later, with the assistance of her team in the IT department, she discovered the existence of an e-mail account that had super-user admin rights, which allowed the user to access any system and folder on the PIC network.

Menye said she was “shocked with disbelief” when she realised that the user of the account was an individual at Naledi Advisory Services who had been granted the rights at the instruction of Matjila.

Matjila specifically instructed Naledi to monitor the e-mails of five executives at the PIC, of which she was one. “To me, this was tantamount to the CEO spying on the executives,” she said.  “What was even more strange was that the CEO was the one that was inappropriately spearheading the investigation of finding the whistle-blower while the very allegations of corruption were leveled against him.” 

thompsonw@businesslive.co.za