Con­cern as au­dit­ing head sus­pended

Mu­nic­i­pal watch­dog de­part­ment now miss­ing two se­nior staff mem­bers

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Odette Parfitt and Siyam­tanda Capa [email protected]­soblack­

THE Nel­son Man­dela Bay Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s watch­dog de­part­ment, in­ter­nal au­dit, is with­out a head fol­low­ing the re­cent sus­pen­sion of in­ter­nal au­dit di­rec­tor Bon­nie Chan. Chan was sus­pended for al­legedly fail­ing to im­ple­ment a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to ter­mi­nate its con­tract with KPMG.

Fur­ther ex­ac­er­bat­ing the staffing woes, se­nior foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tor Werner Wiehart was also sus­pended last month.

They join a list of at least eight other sus­pended of­fi­cials, whose con­tin­u­ing dis­ci­plinary cases have cost the metro more than R850 000 thus far.

The rea­sons for Wiehart’s sus­pen­sion are un­clear.

“I was ma­li­ciously sus­pended be­cause I in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion at the high­est level and I found con­fir­ma­tion of cor­rup­tion be­ing cov­ered up,” Wiehan said.

In­sid­ers claim he was prob­ing mat­ters in­volv­ing city man­ager Jo­hann Met­tler, but Met­tler de­nied this.

In the ab­sence of the two of­fi­cials, Met­tler said Niall Bis­son, an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor in the unit, would be act­ing head.

Two mu­nic­i­pal in­sid­ers said Chan was sus­pended for fail­ing to im­ple­ment a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion on cut­ting ties with KPMG.

The EFF brought an ur­gent mo­tion in Oc­to­ber to ter­mi­nate the con­tract with KPMG fol­low­ing the con­tro­versy around the firm’s work for the Gupta fam­ily.

At the time, KPMG had been manag­ing the metro’s ethics hot­line and its au­dit and risk plan for three years.

The de­ci­sion was made in coun­cil to end the con­tract in Fe­bru­ary, al­low­ing time for KPMG to hand over to a new au­dit­ing firm.

Af­ter this de­ci­sion, Chan was meant to lead the process to en­sure the mu­nic­i­pal­ity per­ma­nently hired the KPMG staff do­ing the city’s au­dit­ing work for it.

“Bon­nie wanted the con­tract to be ex­tended. She said she needed more time be­cause cor­po­rate ser­vices was not do­ing their work to in­source the KPMG staff and so on,” a mu­nic­i­pal in­sider close to the process said.

“There was a feel­ing she was look­ing for ex­cuses and wak­ing up at the last mo­ment.

“She was then sus­pended for not im­ple­ment­ing the coun­cil res­o­lu­tion and also for poor lead­er­ship.”

When con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, Chan said she was on sick leave and hung up be­fore any ques­tions could be posed. She did not re­spond to text mes­sages re­quest­ing the rea­sons for her sus­pen­sion.

Met­tler would only con­firm Chan’s sus­pen­sion, adding he could not con­firm or deny if it was a re­sult of the KPMG is­sue.

Met­tler, how­ever, in­di­cated that five for­mer KPMG em­ploy­ees had been ap­pointed to the unit on a con­tract ba­sis.

Mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee chair­woman Yoliswa Yako said hav­ing two se­nior staff in the in­ter­nal au­dit de­part­ment sus­pended was wor­ry­ing.

“It leaves a gap in a cru­cial de­part­ment of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“We have au­dit find­ings from the au­di­tor-gen­eral that must be at­tended to, so we can’t not have an in­ter­nal au­dit head. “It means we have no func­tion to po­lice wrong­do­ing,” she said.

Mean­while, the metro is still strug­gling to con­clude pro­ceed­ings against eight other of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing for­mer hous­ing de­liv­ery di­rec­tor Mvu­leni Mapu and three of­fi­cials from the pub­lic health de­part­ment.

Pro­ceed­ings against Mapu, who was sus­pended in Septem­ber 2015 for al­leged mis­con­duct and cor­rup­tion, had cost the metro nearly R610 000 by Fe­bru­ary 14.

This is ac­cord­ing to con­fi­den­tial coun­cil doc­u­ments – seen by The Her­ald – de­tail­ing the progress made and costs in­curred in var­i­ous dis­ci­plinary cases.

The doc­u­ments ex­plained that Mapu’s sec­ond hear­ing had been de­layed “for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time” due to his health.

Mapu con­firmed yes­ter­day that he had sub­mit­ted sev­eral med­i­cal cer­tifi­cates to the metro, but said it had noth­ing to do with his hear­ing.

“It was just to in­form the em­ployer,” Mapu said. “I’ve at­tended all hear­ings by the em­ployer, [and] I’m wait­ing for the hear­ing to be fi­nalised.”

The metro is also con­tin­u­ing its pro­ceed­ings against pub­lic health of­fi­cials Jo­ram Mkosana, Nkosi­nathi Dolo and Thabo Wil­liams, who were sus­pended in April.

Although the doc­u­ments state that the charge sheets against the three are still be­ing drafted, Met­tler said the sheets had been fi­nalised. The hear­ing costs for the three amounted to R242 000 thus far.

Met­tler said the process had been de­layed as two in­ves­ti­ga­tions against the three of­fi­cials had to be con­cluded.

Asked why the city was not ne­go­ti­at­ing set­tle­ments with other em­ploy­ees who had been sus­pended, Met­tler said he could not ap­proach em­ploy­ees to ne­go­ti­ate set­tle­ments.

Met­tler said he be­lieved progress had been made with sus­pended of­fi­cials.

“We have made progress, but not as rapidly as I would like.

“There are cases that drag on for a long time, but it is be­cause staff mem­bers or of­fi­cials tend to post­pone th­ese things be­cause of sick­ness, but there is progress.

“Once I charge peo­ple the cases can run, but as soon as you charge peo­ple they be­come ill.

“There are a num­ber of cases where of­fi­cials refuse to have ev­i­dence heard and we have agreed to have a case by af­fi­davit, “Met­tler said. – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Rochelle de Kock


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