I was forced to probe security breaches after ‘spiteful’ e-mails, Dan Matjila says
The former PIC chief told the Mpati commission of a ‘spurious’ claim made in the e-mails in which he was accused of using his influence to have his son ‘irregularly employed’ at the PIC
The former CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Dan Matjila, says “spurious and spiteful leaks” in the company forced him to seek board approval to investigate the many breaches of its IT platform.
“I was very concerned about the vulnerability of the PIC IT platform. Not only was there a clear and obvious risk to R2-trillion worth of client assets if the PIC’s systems could be compromised in this manner, but there was a real likelihood that potential applicants for finance would be deterred from approaching the PIC for funding if the confidentiality of the applications could not be secured,” Matjila said on Monday.
The motivation for the forensic investigation that was instituted with the board’s consent in September 2017 has been the subject of scrutiny at the PIC commission. This was after e-mails were sent from an anonymous account to PIC staff and the media. These were purportedly sent from a whistle-blower inside the state-owned asset manager.
The e-mails, sent from accounts belonging to “James Nogu” (September 2017) and “James Noko” (2019), made a number of allegations against Matjila and other senior executives and board members of the PIC.
Among the allegations was one that tied Matjila to a romantic relationship with Pretty Louw, a woman who was attempting to access funding from the asset manager. The claim was later found to be untrue in a report prepared at the PIC’s request by advocate Geoff Budlender.
When asked by judge Lex Mpati why the PIC made more effort to investigate the leaks as opposed to the allegations made by the whistle-blower, Matjila replied: “It depends how you see this person. If you see this person as a whistle-blower, then the PIC should have investigated them. But we also don’t believe they are a whistle-blower, because some of the allegations are malicious. I can’t believe they should be given the status of a whistle-blower. They are throwing as much mud as possible and seeing if it can stick,” Matjila said.
He cited another example of the “spurious” allegations made in the e-mails, where he was accused of using his influence to have his son “irregularly employed” at the PIC. “The evidence for this accusation? There was a gentleman who had been appointed manager of the PIC canteen, who shared my surname. In fact, this Mr Matjila was no relation of mine,” Matjila said.
The investigation yielded no results, but when asked who he thought was behind the e-mails, Matjila said there was a “high probability” the PIC’s former head of IT security, Simphiwe Mayisela, was involved.
Mayisela has denied being the source of the e-mails but has said he was co-operating with police.