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6 November 2014

Media Statement on behalf of Mr John Oliphant


Information to the media
1.

The GEPF has released a statement that Mr Oliphant has been dismissed for
misconduct.

2.

Some speculation exists that Mr Oliphant asked the GEPF to hide the details of his
dismissal. This is incorrect. On the contrary, Mr Oliphant persistently wished for the
disciplinary proceedings to be public and specifically asked, on 17 March 2014, that
the hearing and all documents be made public given that certain documents were
selectively leaked to the media. The GEPF argued that the hearing was a
confidential matter.

3.

Despite its stance that the disciplinary proceedings were confidential, the GEPF has
made several media statements in the past. Mr Oliphant has been reluctant to
respond to these and put forward his version of events because he feared further
disciplinary action against him.

Brief sequence of events leading to Mr Oliphants dismissal


4.

Mr Oliphant was suspended during October 2013. The disciplinary hearing


commenced during December 2014. Mr Oliphant was represented by an attorney.

5.

The GEPF was represented by an attorney, junior counsel and senior counsel.

6.

The chairperson of the hearing (Advocate B Matlejoane of the Pretoria Bar) found
Mr Oliphant guilty of various allegations of misconduct on 30 July 2014. After the
parties made written submissions regarding the sanction she ought to recommend,

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the chairperson imposed a sanction of dismissal with immediate effect on 8


October 2014.
7.

On 10 and 14 October 2014 Mr Oliphant, through his attorneys, expressed the view
that the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing only had the power to recommend
an appropriate sanction to the Board and sought clarity about the status of Adv
Matlejoanes report and of his employment. The GEPF did not respond.

8.

On 3 November 2014 the Chairperson of the Board of the GEPF, Dr R Mokate,


informed Mr Oliphant that Adv Matlejoane had ruled that he be dismissed with
immediate effect on 8 October 2014 and that since he had not lodged an appeal
within five days, the matter was regarded as finalised.

9.

Mr Oliphant informed the GEPF of the true sequence of events and pointed out that
he had not been informed by his employer, the GEPF, that he was dismissed in the
manner set out in its disciplinary code which would have expressly informed him of
his right to lodge an appeal. On 4 November 2014 the GEPF acknowledged that Mr
Oliphant was not informed of his right to appeal and has now allowed him five
working days to do so.

10.

Mr Oliphant will appeal both the findings of guilt and the sanction of dismissal.
However, he has approached the GEPF (as he has on numerous occasions in the
past) to explore an amicable resolution of the matter. He awaits a response from the
GEPF.

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The allegations
11.

There were three main allegations against Mr Oliphant:

1.1. On 3 December 2012 Mr Oliphant approved variation of a bid to Mother Russia in


excess of 50% (from approximately R535 000 to R2 million over three years). The
GEPF alleges that Mr Oliphant lacked authority to do so in terms of the Supply Chain
Management Policy (SCM Policy).
1.2. Mr Oliphant requested the Benefits and Administration Committee (BAC) to
recommend to the Board to extend his authority to sign invoices above R2 million.
The GEPF alleges that Mr Oliphant sought to bypass the Finance and Audit
Committee (FAC) and that when the BAC declined to entertain his request, he
placed it before the FAC but withdrew it before the FAC met. Thereafter, the GEPF
alleges, Mr Oliphant submitted the variation to the Bid Adjudication Committee
(BidCom) to remedy the deficiencies of his approval of the variation.
1.3. During October 2012 Mr Oliphant approved the appointment of Your Corporate AV
Connection to install a TV without obtaining three quotes as required by the SCM
Policy.
12.

Mr Oliphant is not guilty of misconduct. Broadly, Mr Oliphants response to each of


the above allegations is as follows:

Variation
1.1. Mr Oliphant admits that he varied the Mother Russia bid from R535 000 to a
maximum of R2 million over a period of 3 (three) years and that the variation is
greater than 50%. He is not guilty because the SCM Policy allows the BidCom or
him to vary bids in excess of 50%.

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1.2. Clause 4.18.5 of the SCM Policy provides that variation of a transaction by more
than 50% shall be referred to the Bid Committee or the CEO. Mr Oliphant
interpreted this to mean that either the Bid Committee or he could verify bids by
more than 50%. The chairperson has found that this interpretation is wrong.
1.3. While Mr Oliphant is the custodian of the SCM Policy, he relies on the SCM Unit and
the Finance Department for guidance. Neither raised any concerns. On the contrary,
both the variation and the purchase order (necessary for payment) were approved
by the Finance Department. No one else has been charged in this regard.
1.4. Even though the heading of the charge refers to unauthorised, irregular and/or
fruitless and wasteful expenditure, no evidence was presented that the expenditure
relating to this charge was fruitless and wasteful.
1.5. Mr Oliphants uncontested evidence is that he stopped all transactions and
payments to Mother Russia immediately when he discovered that Mother Russia
had been appointed without the bid serving before the Bid Committee. The total
spent on the transaction was approximately R600 000 (and all the invoices relating
to payments were signed off by Head of Corporate Services to which the Finance
Department reports) not near the total amount to which the bid was varied. The of
Corporate Services is the current Acting Principal Executive Officer Ms Joelene
Moodley.
1.6. Mr Oliphant believes that the chairpersons findings are incorrect. Nevertheless, at
worst Mr Oliphants wrongdoing is that he misinterpreted the SCM Policy. He did not
engage in corrupt practices.

Referral to Benefits and Administration Committee (BAC)


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13.

Mr Oliphant admits that he requested the BAC to recommend to the Board to extend
his authority to approve invoices over R2 million but denies that he had done so to
circumvent the FAC and that he had then placed it before the BidCom to remedy the
deficiencies in his approval of the variation.

14.

The extension of authority to approve invoices above R2 million was not an


extension of the Mother Russia bid but for Mother Russia to procure services from
other service providers. Mr Oliphant did not submit the variation to the BidCom to
remedy any deficiencies but for it to investigate what had gone wrong and to
recommend how the GEPF should proceed.

15.

Both the BAC and the FAC are sub-committees of the Board. Mr Oliphant did not
seek the approval of the BAC but asked the BAC to recommend to the Board that it
(the Board) approve him signing invoices above R2 million. The BAC entertained
and approved his request. Even if Mr Oliphant had referred the matter to the
incorrect sub-committee, the Board itself retained final say in the matter.

16.

The BAC consists of at least ten Board members. Mr Oliphant did not intend hiding
the matter from the Board. Mr Oliphant always intended the Board to consider and
approve him signing invoices above R2 million.

17.

Mr Oliphant stopped the entire transaction, including the approval for him to sign
invoices above R2 million, when he discovered that the initial bid to appoint Mother
Russia did not serve before the Bid Committee. No transactions materialised in this
respect and Mr Oliphant did not sign for any invoices above R2 million.

18.

No irregular, unauthorised or fruitless and wasteful expenditure took place relating


to this allegation.

Purchase and installation of TV


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19.

Mr Oliphant admits that three quotes were not sought in appointing Your Corporate
AV Connection (AV Connection) but states that sound reasons existed for doing so.
Briefly, AV Connection had previously installed the audiovisual equipment and
network for the GEPF and were best placed to supply and install the relevant
equipment.

20.

The incident to which this charge relates occurred during 2012. Both internal and
external audits subsequently took place and no irregularities were raised.

21.

The SCM Unit reports to Ms Ntshingila. The SCM Unit and the finance department
of the GEPF oversaw and approved the transaction. Ms Ntshingila compiled the list
of deviations handed to PwC. She was aware of the transaction but no explanation
exists for the delay in charging Mr Oliphant.

22.

Approval to deviate was sought for good reasons. Mr Siyanda Dyeshana, Manager:
Resources set out the reasons for requesting approval for the deviation in a
memorandum. The memorandum states the following:
The software and the systems that were installed in the boardroom are so delicate
that the company that was tasked to install it makes their services available for the
Board whenever a problem arises with the functioning of the system within the
Boardroom
The IT unit has been cautioned against using the services of a company that is not
fully aware of the technical expertise required to handle such a complicated task, it
was agreed that to avoid mistakes, AV connection should be contacted to undertake
the task.

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23.

Neither the allegation nor the evidence indicates that the GEPF suffered any loss or
that the expenditure amounted to fruitless and wasteful expenditure (in the sense
that the GEPF did not obtain valid goods or services for the amount spent).

24.

No evidence exists that Mr Oliphant intended benefitting the service provider to the
detriment of other service providers or that he in some way acted in a corrupt
manner.

Conclusion
25.

Mr Oliphant has repeatedly indicated his preference to resolve the matter amicably
including the possibility of him stepping down from his position if this were in the
best interests of the GEPF.

26.

However, Mr Oliphant also wishes the process to be transparent and that all
documents including the allegations, the reports, documents, transcriptions,
correspondence and findings be made available to the public.

27.

Mr Oliphant is confident that a proper exposition of the facts and events surrounding
his dismissal will confirm that he is innocent and seeks, above all, to restore his
reputation.

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