Hearing of Richards case held up again

Brian Hayward

THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has been barred from resuming its disciplinary hearings against municipal manager Graham Richards until a Port Elizabeth High Court motion for the release of a forensic report detailing municipal transactions during his tenure has been heard.

The continuation of the disciplinary hearing was scheduled for next week.

Yesterday’s order by Judge Mandela Makaula has preceded Richards’s notice of motion to force Local Government MEC Sicelo Gqobana to hand over the report.

Richards’s motion is being brought in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

East London forensic investigations firm Kabuso CC compiled the report in August last year on Gqobana’s instructions.

The court proceedings followed a lastminute scramble by the state last week to file its opposition to the motion, after it missed its three-week window period to do so. State counsel senior advocate Gerald Bloem said state attorney Sazi Mnyande had forgotten to file the opposition timeously.

The resumption of Richards’s disciplinary hearing – which started briefly in February – has now been pushed back further.

Having Richards on paid special leave since August last year while allegations of misconduct against him are investigated has cost ratepayers about R4-million so far.

The metro commissioned its own report and Richards is also seeking to have the High Court declare that report null and void.

The hearing on whether to order the Kabuso report’s release or not could be heard in mid-November.

The report is understood, according to well-placed officials, to exonerate Richards and former Bay mayor Nondumiso Maphazi.

Included in Makaula’s order yesterday was that the state pay for the day’s costs, including representation by advocate Bruce Dyke and senior advocate Albert Beyleveld.