PIC board gave Dan Matjila licence to target whistle-blowers, axed executive Paul Magula says
The PIC fired Magula in 2018 due to unsatisfactory overall performance and serious claims of negligence stemming from his time as a board member of VBS Mutual Bank
The board of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) allowed its former CEO, Dan Matjila, to run investigations into leaked information that implicated him to target whistle-blowers, an inquiry heard on Monday.
The PIC's former executive head of risk, Paul Magula, was testifying at the inquiry into the PIC’s governance, which is being led by retired judge Lex Mpati. The corporation has been embroiled in numerous controversies including allegations of corruption.
Magula was dismissed from the PIC in 2018 due to unsatisfactory performance and serious allegations of negligence that stemmed from his time as a board member of VBS Mutual Bank. He had been appointed to oversee the PIC’s 26% minority stake in the bank that went into curatorship in March 2018 and is now being liquidated.
According to the report compiled at the behest of the Reserve Bank into VBS’s failure, Magula “eventually confessed, after putting up strenuous denials, that he had received unlawful payments … in excess of R7.6m in order to buy his silence”.
Magula’s testimony at the PIC inquiry included that the board, after exonerating Matjila, “saw fit to allow him to handle the matters of leakage of information on allegations that affect him”.
In essence, after finding Matjila had done nothing wrong, the board allowed him to investigate the source of the leaks that had implicated him in the first place. This power, which also extended to PIC CFO Matshepo More, and executive head for human resources Chris Polwane, was later “instituted as a tool to victimise and dismiss targeted staff members”, Magula said.
Magula claims that PIC company secretary Bongani Mathebula, IT security manager Simphiwe Mayisela, executive head for IT Vuyokazi Menye and he were all targets who were either dismissed or suspended.
Magula also described how the company was in breach of its own memorandum of incorporation in relation to the separation of executive functions.
This came about in part through the conflation of roles that saw Matjila, then chief investment officer, also become the CEO, and More also assuming the de facto role of COO.
“Due to this, all other executives or executive heads became demoted and had no say in decision making within [the] PIC. They just had to do as they were told.”