When John Block speaks we listen, says official

2014-02-18 16:58

A government official treated a request from Northern Cape ANC leader John Block to help a business friend as an order, the Kimberley High Court has heard.

“I saw it as an order to help ... with office accommodation in the province. We listen to our leaders,” state witness John Crouch said today.

Judge Mathebe Phatshoane was hearing evidence in the fraud and corruption case against Block, Alvin Botes, ANC MP Yolanda Botha and Trifecta director Christo Scholtz.

The National Prosecuting Authority alleges that the Trifecta Group entered into several lease agreements with the Northern Cape social development department in which rentals, or rental space, were grossly inflated. The accused have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them or their companies.

Leading Crouch in his evidence-in-chief, prosecutor Peter Serunye asked if he knew that Block was a government employee at the time the crimes were committed. Crouch was the head of a unit in the former Northern Cape transport, roads and public works department responsible for providing accommodation for state departments in the province.

“No, he was the deputy chairman of the ANC. I am a member of the ANC for many years, still am,” replied Crouch.

Serunye asked: “What was your reaction?”

Crouch said Block was a leader of the ANC.

“It’s a fact in the Northern Cape that when Block speaks we listen. We have that habit in the Northern Cape,” he said.

The court heard Block allegedly told Crouch a Sarel Breda would come to visit him.

“I must see how I could help him [Breda],” Crouch told the court.

Crouch said before he could phone Breda, a Trifecta director, he apparently arrived at his office announcing he was sent by the “big chief”.

The court heard Breda visited Crouch’s office so often that he and the staff became uncomfortable. Crouch testified that he had phoned Block to complain about Breda’s constant presence.

“His response was that I must see that the office accommodation of arts and culture and agriculture must be completed,” said Crouch.

Breda died in an aircraft accident in the Northern Cape on March 9 2009.

Earlier, Phatshoane warned Crouch that he should answer all questions put to him by the state and defence teams honestly.

Crouch had faced corruption charges in the Trifecta case but turned state witness.

The trial continues.

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