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Richards forensic probe costs top R1.5m

BY Site Admin

THE forensic investigation into alleged misconduct by Nelson Mandela Bay municipal manager Graham Richards has already cost more than R1.5- million.

 

This is part of an estimated R3- to R4-million ratepayers have had to fork out since Richards took special leave on July 29 last year.

And it does not include the salary he continues to draw as disciplinary proceedings against him continue – with no date apparently set for a hearing to take place.

 

His contract runs until August next year, and at this stage there is no indication of when the matter will be finalised.

Initially, Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka said he wanted it finalised by September last year – more than seven months ago.

 

It is also understood that the forensic investigation report, by Ramathe and Fivaz, exonerates Richards completely, as does a separate probe that was ordered by Eastern Cape Local Government MEC Sicelo Gqobana.

But Gqobana has not yet stated whether he will make the report public, although the ANC has demanded that he do so. That investigation, which was conducted into land deals around Nelson Mandela Bay, is apparently archly critical of senior members of the ruling party.

 

In addition to more than R1.5-million paid for the forensic audit – which acting municipal manager Elias Ntoba told the council yesterday was still ongoing – Ntoba’s salary is estimated to have set the metro back an estimated R700000 to date.

However, a further about R120000 must be added to that amount for his return flights home to Upington, in addition to accommodation and car-hire costs.

 

Yesterday, DA caucus leader Leon de Villiers criticised the ongoing suspension of Richards, saying the administration remained “rudderless due to the costly and never-ending political suspension of the municipal manager”.

“We urgently require a strong administrator to lead this municipality, so the mayor must tell us when he is going to make public the report from the forensic investigators into the alleged misconduct of the municipal manager – and when he intends to finalise this R1.5-million investigation,” De Villiers said.

 

Richards, he said, had been on leave since July, “so the total cost of this politically charged investigation and the resultant costs are now running into millions”.

Furthermore, when three suspended housing officials were reinstated on March 19 last year, “we were told that the legal process had taken too long and had become too costly”.

“The precedent has now been set and the DA will be calling for those responsible for this fruitless and wasteful expenditure to be brought to account for their actions,” De Villiers said. – The Herald

 May 07, 2010
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