THE disciplinary committee leading Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality chief spokesman Roland Williams’s inquiry has suspended him.
The news was confirmed by the head of the committee, Hendrick Viviers, who said Williams failed to arrive for the hearing to explain himself, so they took a decision in his absence on Friday.
Williams was suspended for his involvement in the controversial gantries tender, which cost the city hundreds of thousands of rands in legal fees, pending the outcome of an investigation.
Viviers, who is also the municipality’s labour relations acting director, said: "There was no hearing on Friday. Mr Williams did not turn up. We took the decision to suspend him. He was notified.”
The initial date for Williams’s hearing, last Wednesday, was postponed after he turned up with a lawyer to represent him. This was apparently "unprocedural”.
Viviers said Williams was supposed to bring a union leader or municipal employee, which was the normal procedure.
In the "letter of intention to suspend” sent by acting municipal manager Themba Hani on Friday, which The Herald has seen, the city’s interim boss said he had received reports that Williams played "a prominent role in the alleged unlawful erection and installation of gantries by Century Media”.
Williams gave the go-ahead to Century Media to put up the four gantries to advertise the Fifa World Cup in 2010 despite an instruction not to, according to human settlements department officials.
He explained, in a letter to The Herald last week, that although the gantries contravened the bylaw at the time, there was a lot of pressure from council to advertise during the World Cup and the municipality earned R240000 in revenue from the gantry advertising.
The municipality’s acting communications director, Marti Nell, refused to comment yesterday.
Several attempts to obtain comment from Williams were unsuccessful.