PIC moves to discipline another executive

Bongani Mathebula, the suspended company secretary of the embattled Public Investment Corporation (PIC), was summoned to a disciplinary hearing this week for allegedly leaking information.

Mathebula was one of six senior officials at the PIC personally investigated by the company’s CEO, Dan Matjila, last year, following claims that Matjila had caused PIC money to be indirectly paid to his alleged girlfriend.

“It is alleged that you breached your duty of good faith and confidentiality as an employee and in your position as company secretary of the Public Investment Corporation ... in that you caused the distribution and/or copying of confidential PIC information,” reads a letter sent to Mathebula last month.

The disciplinary hearing was set down for two days this week – Tuesday and Friday – and will resume next month.

When City Press contacted Mathebula, she replied with a message saying “no comment”.

The PIC’s spokesperson, Sekgoela Sekgoela, said that “as a general rule, the PIC is not in a position to comment until the matter reaches its logical conclusion, to maintain and protect the integrity of the disciplinary process”.

City Press understands that Mathebula is being disciplined for allegedly sharing the unadulterated minutes of a PIC board meeting held on 29 September last year, but the PIC would not confirm this.

Documents now in the public domain, because of United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa’s July court application to have Matjila suspended, show how these minutes were edited to remove criticisms of Matjila.

Among the paragraphs removed were ones that declared Matjila’s conduct had endangered the PIC’s reputation and could not be condoned.

The real minutes cropped up in previous disciplinary hearings related to the Matjila saga, and Mathebula is alleged to have been the source, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Mathebula was one of the senior PIC executives targeted by Matjila in his attempt to track down the source of a now-infamous whistle-blower email sent to the entire PIC board on September 5 last year under the pseudonym James Nogu.

This was the email alleging that Matjila had caused PIC money to flow, indirectly, to businesswoman Pretty Louw, who was further alleged to be his romantic partner.

This and other allegations against top PIC executives are now being investigated by police, while there is also a Treasury-ordered forensic investigation going on and a separate commission of inquiry into the PIC in the works.

City Press has previously reported on a letter, signed by Matjila in October last year, asking email management company Mimecast’s Cape Town office to make available the email servers of six executives.

Apart from Mathebula, three of the six executives Matjila looked into are now gone:

  •  Vuyokazi Menye, the head of IT, was also suspended and subjected to a disciplinary hearing. She was ultimately given a R7 million golden handshake to leave the PIC. However, her subordinate Simphiwe Mayisela, was fired outright and is challenging his dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The charge against him was that he failed to inform Matjila that the police were investigating Matjila for corruption. This followed Mayisela opening a case at the Brooklyn Police Station to get the SA Police Service to help in the hunt for “James Nogu”. Instead, the police decided to investigate Nogu’s claims against Matjila. Mayisela was then fired.
  • Paul Magula, head of risk, was fired for “incompetence”, but a City Press investigation has subsequently uncovered compelling evidence that he was also the recipient of bribes from the failed VBS Mutual Bank, where he represented the PIC. City Press is aware of long-standing tensions between Magula and Matjila.
  • Ernest Nesane, the PIC’s head of legal, was also implicated in wrongdoing at VBS, where he, like Magula, had represented the PIC. His emails were also looked at by Matjila and he has since resigned after giving testimony to investigators working for the curator of VBS.
  • Pamela Phala, also in the PIC’s legal department, was also on Matjila’s list, but nothing seems to have happened to her.
  • Lufuno Nemagovhani, the PIC’s head of internal audit, was likewise on the list, but also escaped censure.
  • Mathebula has been suspended since at least April.
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