PIC should have used external investigator over claims, says former director
Sibusisiwe Zulu says subjecting the allegations to an independent process was the right thing to do — and should have been done in 2017
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) should have looked for an independent investigator to look into allegations surfacing from anonymous e-mails, a former director Sibusisiwe Zulu has said.
The e-mails sent by a purported whistle-blower called James Nogu were distributed in 2017 alleging that former PIC CEO Dan Matjila was romantically involved with Pretty Louw, who had received money from the PIC.
The board ultimately decided to look into the matter internally and cleared Matjila of any wrongdoing, but Zulu, who appeared before the commission of inquiry into the affairs of the PIC, said this was the wrong decision and stated as much at the time.
“I thought subjecting the Nogu allegations to an independent process [was the right thing to do]. We basically cannot be investigators, prosecutors and judge. So I thought we should take the accusations and have them looked at independently,” said Zulu.
“What we should have done in 2017 we were told to do by the minister a year later. No-one would have raised questions to say the board was protecting the CEO.”
This resulted in then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene writing to the board in 2018, issuing a directive for an independent third party to investigate the matter. This ultimately saw advocate Geoff Budlender being commissioned by the National Treasury to investigate the matter. He found no wrongdoing on the part of Matjila.
However, according to Zulu, the matter was never properly concluded because Budlender’s report made a number of findings regarding the actions of the board. Zulu provided a different account of what transpired regarding Matjila’s departure in November 2018.
“There was a debate [within the board] as to whether Matjila’s letter was a resignation letter or not. Everyone was given a turn, and my view was that he intended to resign in March, and now we [were] at the end of November, and I thought he should leave immediately. The board was unanimous in accepting the resignation.”
Earlier in the day, Zulu had been cleared of any wrongdoing in a lifestyle audit commissioned by the board of the PIC and performed by PwC forensic services on five former directors.
This included former Matjila, suspended CFO Matshepo More, former PIC chair and former deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele, as well as former non-executive directors Zulu and Dudu Hlatshwayo.
The directors had been implicated, from an anonymous source, in a series of e-mails sent from the pseudonym “James Nogu”.
“There was no evidence of criminal conduct nor any substantiation of any of the allegations made in the James Nogu e-mails,” said PIC commission evidence leader Advocate Jannie Lubbe on Tuesday. He read the findings into the record before the commission.