More unnamed witnesses to testify at PIC inquiry

After a two week break, the judicial commission of inquiry investigating issues of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) will continue in Pretoria on Monday where unnamed witnesses will be giving testimony.

The commission is headed by retired Judge Lex Mpati who is assisted by former Reserves Bank governor Gil Marcus and investment expert Emmanuel Lediga.

“Evidence will be presented by key witnesses. However, the names of the witnesses will be made public before they appear before the commission,” it said in a statement. 

Over a week ago, the commission released a statement saying key witnesses due to appear before it had been receiving death threats sent via anonymous SMSes. 

READ MORE: PIC commission witnesses receive death threats

While the threats of harm have been reported to the police, who are trying to unveil the identity of the suspects behind the messages, the commission expressed concern that the threats would discourage witnesses from coming forward.

Several people have been implicated in the testimony before the Mpati commission since its hearings started in January including former chief executive Dan Matjila.

The commission heard that the board at the time was split about how to deal with allegations that Matjila had corruptly used his influence to secure PIC funding for his alleged girlfriends business.
The allegations came from an unknown whistle-blower under the alias of “James Nogu”.

Former board member Claudia Manning told the Mpati inquiry that the board had debated the matter at length and the period between September and December, when the allegations emerged and were investigated, was “tumultuous” and “polarising”.

Matjila has also been named as a key figure is approving the contentious R4.3-billion equity purchase made in Ayo Technology Solutions, an IT company linked to Iqbal Surve, despite concerns raised by PIC employees that the valuation of the company was overpriced.

In the background, a new set of emails which are believed to come from Nogu triggered the mass resignation of all the non-executive PIC board members including its chairperson, deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele.

READ MORE: PIC board resigns due to allegations of impropriety

Gungubele and three other members of the PIC were accused of corruption or attempting to capture the state asset manager which controls over R2-trillion in state pensions and other assets.

The board said the decision to step down was taken after it considered that the attacks to discredit the board would not end and as a result, it would not be able to carry out its fiduciary duties without scrutiny.

The process to appoint an interim board is currently underway. 

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