THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's chief internal auditor Bonnie Chan's ability to investigate fraud in the institution has been tainted because she is one of the managers overpaid by the metro, councillors said yesterday.
They questioned Chan's integrity, saying she was dishonest because she wilfully accepted overpayments meant for former Uitenhage and Despatch municipal staff since 2010 – backdated to 2009 – even though she knew she should not be a beneficiary.
This comes after Chan was accused by acting municipal manager Themba Hani of manipulating interview scores and recommending that a white official in her department be appointed in an affirmative action post.
In a veiled reference to Chan at a municipal public accounts committee meeting yesterday, ANC councillor Marion Harning said internal audit could not be trusted to investigate fraud and fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the municipality when the department was tainted.
Chan is one of the 70 directors and assistant directors who were mistakenly overpaid more than R40-million since pay parity was implemented.
"When people receive money and did not step forward and say I am not entitled to receive the money, that's dishonesty," Harning said.
"How can you investigate fruitless and wasteful expenditure when you are doing the same thing?"
Harning was echoed by UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani who said: "Internal audit cannot even investigate themselves ... so how can we leave them to investigate fraudulent activity?"
Bobani was called to order by DA councillor Retief Odendaal, who blasted the councillors for attacking Chan. "If there are allegations of officials being tainted because they benefit from pay parity then there are 70 others in the institution who should be looked at too," Odendaal said.
Meanwhile, although the municipality has been barred by the Port Elizabeth Labour Court from docking the salaries of the senior managers, chief operating officer Israel Tsatsire said they were going ahead with recovering the money overpaid.
He was shouted down by councillors, who said the court decision had to be respected and the council had never agreed to recover the money.
Corporate Services acting executive director Roslyn van Greunen said yesterday the municipality would comply with the court interdict if the matter was not resolved before the next pay date.