'I own the PIC', ex-CEO Dan Matjila is said to have told employee

Dan Matjila, the former CEO of the Public Investment Corporation, was so determined to find the source of anonymous emails claiming he was corrupt that external security experts were brought in to probe the company’s IT system - without the PIC's own IT team being aware of the move.

This is according to testimony by Vuyokazi Menye, who headed the corporation's IT department, at the judicial commission of inquiry into the PIC on Wednesday. 

Menye told of how Matjila fought to uncover the identity of a "James Nogu" who had circulated claims of corruption against him.

"Nogu" is the anonymous whistleblower who has loomed large over the inquiry.

Menye told the commission that in September 2017, she found out from Eric McGee, a consultant at technology company BCX, that the company had tried to install a rogue system on the PIC network without success. 

“We were shocked to hear about this,” she said. She said McGee told her they were acting on the instruction of the CEO and the then-Chief Financial Officer, Matshepo More. 

More is now the acting CEO of the corporation.

Menye said McGee then congratulated the IT team for having "strong and effective security measures" in the system.

Menye further stated that she wrote to Matjila to express her concern about conducting an information security assessment without involving the company’s internal IT department. She said this “exposed the company to great risk” and was “not in line with good governance”.

Matjila, according to Menye's testimony, responded to her concern by saying the information security assessment was an instruction from the asset manager's board.

The inquiry’s assistant commissioner, Gill Marcus, requested that board minutes, where the decision was apparently taken to hire the external IT security company, be made available to the commission. 

Menye testified that she queried if the security company was properly vetted and had been made to sign a nondisclosure agreement, given that it had been given access to the company's sensitive IT system. 

She received no response to her question.

Menye on Wednesday also related how Matjila became enraged when she refused to give him access to all the system administrator passwords for the company.

“I told him that I cannot do that because, if I do, I will be breaching the IT governance and controls.”

Menye said an irate Matjila stood up and said “… This is my organisation, I own the PIC, give me all the system admin passwords.”

Menye was later put on suspension and offered a R7.2m settlement by the PIC around June 2018.

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