ANC blames politics for Block’s woes

2012-11-24 18:46

Northern Cape says leaders are being victimised.

Supporters of ANC Northern Cape leader John Block are shouting political conspiracy after his arrest this week.

Block, who is already on trial for a different corruption case, was charged with money laundering, fraud and corruption relating to building leases that the provincial government signed with property company Trifecta.

Now his supporters are saying it is all a conspiracy to charge him before the ANC’s Mangaung conference.

Provincial secretary of the ANC in the Northern Cape, Zamani Saul, said the provincial executive committee believed that there was a political motive behind the latest court case involving three of its members.

“The timing of the charges is suspect and the prosecuting team was not ready with the charge sheet.

They just rushed everybody to court with a preliminary charge sheet to postpone the case to March 7 next year,” he said.

“There are a string of other ANC leaders in other provinces who benefited from Trifecta (the company involved in the case) in the same way in which John, Alvin (Botes) and Yolanda (Botha) benefited, but there are no criminal charges laid against them,” he said.

He said this kind of inconsistency concerns them.

Saul said it was also suspicious that they were charged three weeks before Mangaung, but the province’s stance – to keep the status quo intact aside from the inclusion of Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula as deputy secretary-general to Gwede Mantashe – could not be the motive.

Block is a former ANC Youth League leader and previously served with Mbalula on the league’s national executive committee.

City Press can reveal Block is also being investigated for charges relating to the forgery of a salt mining licence that his company, SA Soutwerke, used to facilitate their business.

The Supreme Court of Appeal declared the licence was forged at the department of mineral resources in Kimberley and the case was referred to the police.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is waiting for more information before deciding whether to prosecute the case.

Block is also being investigated for intimidating a witness, Gawie Hendriksz, in the salt mining case.

Hendriksz told City Press he was investigating the salt mining case on behalf of Saamwerk Soutwerke, the company that originally held the licence.

With Block in the dock on Wednesday were two of the party’s most senior Northern Cape bosses, Botes (MEC for social development) and Botha (provincial treasurer and MP).

According to the charge sheet, Block and six co-accused, including Botha and Botes, face charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption related to various provincial government leases worth in excess of R9?million.

The NPA is alleging these tenders were granted to Trifecta without any competitive bidding processes, and kickbacks were paid to Block and Botha.

The NPA alleges Block was paid a total of R1.1?million between April 2006 and April 2007, while Botha benefited from company shares given to family members and renovations to her house.

Block is still facing trial for a corruption case involving the sale of water purifiers to provincial hospitals.

Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi’s company, Intaka, allegedly sold the purifiers at inflated prices, thanks to Block’s political influence.

Block declined to comment on his latest arrest.

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