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Matjila: Allegations against me too 'malicious' to be from a whistleblower

Jul 22 2019 20:36
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Former head of the PIC Dan Matjila said he finds it hard to believe that allegations against him come from a whistleblower because they are so "malicious".

Matjila on Monday made his eighth appearance before the commission of inquiry which is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the continent's largest asset manager. Following the lunch break, Matjila discussed what has been dubbed by media as his "reign of terror" at the PIC.

He explained that there were several "nonsensical allegations" made against him and spread to journalists and media. The accusations include nepotism by Matjila, who is said to have appointed his son at the PIC. Matjila told the commission that the man in question is not his son.

Another allegation which surfaced relates to Matjila channeling funds from the PIC to his so-called girlfriend Pretty Louw, in order to save her business. Matjila said an investigation by Advocate Geoff Budlender had cleared him of this allegation.

"This is the level of maliciousness that compelled me to institute robust internal investigations," he told the commission.

Matjila said he suspected the allegations were sourced from inside the PIC and were part of a campaign to discredit him. This is why he commissioned an investigation by an external service provider to find the source of the leaks, as he believed it was an "inside job", he said.

"I was very concerned about the vulnerability of the PIC IT platform. There was a clear and obvious risk to R2trn in client assets.

"There was a likelihood that potential clients seeking finance would be deterred from approaching the PIC for funding if the confidentially of their applications is not secured," he said.

Matjila said he narrowed the scope of the investigation to certain departments from which the leaks could have occurred, such as the legal and risk departments. But not all of the departments were accepting of this, he told the commission. He said he had described his reasons for the investigation to a journalist, who then published a story, coining the term "reign of terror".

'No intention to spy'

"Nothing could be further from the truth - these were steps to protect the PIC and the confidentiality of its clients. I had no intention to spy on employees," Matjila said.

Judge Lex Mpati, who leads the commission, put to Matjila that people were concerned that instead of investigating allegations of the whistleblower, the PIC was investigating the identity of the whistleblower.

To this, Matjila responded that there was no outstanding question about the allegations as Budlender had already investigated them. He also took the view that the allegations did not come from a whistleblower.

"We also argue that we do not believe this is a whistleblower; they are very malicious. They can say anything.

"From where I see it, I cannot believe they can be called whistleblowers, or be given the status of whistleblowing.

"It is just someone being malicious and just throwing as much mud as possible, hoping something will stick in the process," Matjila added.

Matjila said that PIC employees know the process by which whistleblowers can report allegations - there is a hotline, they can reach out to the PIC board or even to Treasury.

"There is a more dignified way of reporting allegations instead of splashing out emails and using the media to support this," he said.

The inquiry resumes at 09:30 on Tuesday.

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