Former PIC IT security head still giving police confidential leaks

The former head of IT security at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), who is part of the police corruption investigation against former chief executive Dan Matjila, says he is still receiving sensitive transaction documents from the state asset manager which he has been passing on to authorities.

Simphiwe Mayisela was suspended from the PIC in November of 2017 and eventually dismissed on June 2018 following various charges of misconduct including not informing Matjila that he was subject to a corruption investigation by the South African Police Services (SAPS) and being in possession of confidential information.

He was dismissed around the same time as his superior, chief IT executive Vuyokazi Menye, was also charged with withholding information about the police probe against Matjila.

The pair’s problems started when an anonymous whistleblower called “Jame Nogu” sent emails to board members and executives accusing Matjila of corruptly funding an alleged girlfriend’s company with PIC money, and using his influence to force a business that the PIC had done business with to settle her personal debt.

On Tuesday, Mayisela confirmed to the commission, headed by retired Judge Lex Mpati, that in addition to documents on the Ayo transaction and an “LMA Risk Participation” transaction with Deutsche Bank, he was still receiving documents on transactions from inside the PIC which he continuous to hand over to police.

He said none of the documents had been leaked to the media although there are reports on some of the transactions but not in great detail.

Mayisela told the commission about how he became active in assisting the police to investigate issues of corruption at the PIC. He described how in an attempt to find out Nogu’s identity he was given a mandate by Matjila to open a case at the police station so that he could obtain a subpoena to get the sender of the emails details.

But things didn’t go as planned when, after opening the case, police decided to investigate the substance of the allegations instead of focusing on the identity of the anonymous whistleblower.

Mayisela told the commission he chose to assist the police corruption investigation “on the basis that [he] may, during the course of his employment and given the nature of [his] role, have access to confidential information that may assist the police with their investigation”.

He said he did this because he did not want to “thwart” an investigation looking into serious allegations by the police but further that the allegations made by Nogu had begun to “weigh” on him and could not be dismissed as mere scandal.

While he was mining confidential information from the PIC Mayisela said he did not inform Matjila and the board about the investigation because he believed at the time that he would have obstructed the ends of justice.

He said the board could “not be trusted” and had failed in fulfilling its fiduciary duties, because, instead of requesting a full investigation on the allegations made by Nogu, they rather looked to unveil the sender’s identity and proceeded to lay “spurious” charges against him and Menye.

Mayisela’s activities with the police were discovered after Matjila commissioned forensic investigators to spy on key PIC employees in an effort to find the source of the Nogu emails.

He maintained that the findings by Advocate Nazeer Cassim, who presided over his disciplinary were flawed because when he initially opened the case he was not aware that the police would investigate a case of corruption against Matjila. He said he only started to deliberately withhold information from the PIC when he decided to assist with the investigation.

“I submit that my decision to withhold information at that later date was justified as my contractual duties were dwarfed by other superseding duties,” said Mayisela.

Asked by commission assistant Emmanuel Lediga why he thinks there are so many leaks of confidential information within the PIC Mayisela said: “There is reasonable suspicion among PIC employees that there might be transactions which are not above board… my belief is that the environment within the PIC is not conducive enough for those people to whistleblow those transactions,” said Mayisela.

He said there is also suspicion that he is “James Nogu” which is why people are comfortable leaking to him.

“I am not James Nogu,” said Mayisela who was also not comfortable with speculating about Nogu’s identity for fear of endangering a whistleblower.

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