ANC’s John Block resigns following corruption conviction

2015-10-16 15:28
John Block

John Block (Emile Hendricks)

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Northern Cape ANC chairperson John Block has resigned following his corruption conviction this week, the ANC in Northern Cape says.

He resigned as Finance MEC in the Northern Cape government, as ANC MPL and as provincial chairman of the ANC.

Block’s decision comes after an ANC provincial executive committee meeting held in Kimberley on Friday morning, attended by ANC regional leaders and leaders of the leagues.

City Press heard early today that Block had resigned as Finance MEC, however, spokesperson for Premier Sylvia Lucas, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, could not provide confirmation.

On Wednesday the Northern Cape High Court found Block, a popular ANC leader, guilty of corruption charges dating back to 2006.

Judge Mathebe Phatsoane found Block and his company, Chisane Investments, guilty of fraud and money laundering.

Director of Trifecta property company Christo Scholtz was found guilty of the same charges.

The ANC’s deputy secretary in the province and Northern Cape cooperative governance MEC, Alvin Botes, was found not guilty.

The charges relate to kickbacks and irregularities in tenders worth millions for buildings the Northern Cape government leased from Trifecta between 2006 and 2010. Rentals, or rental space, were grossly inflated.

Block received cash, renovations to his Upington guest house, and shares in one of Trifecta’s subsidiaries from Scholtz and his deceased co-director Sarel Breda. This was in exchange for ensuring that Trifecta was awarded leases from government departments.

Scholtz and Trifecta were found guilty of making corrupt payments to deceased former ANC MP Yolanda Botha.

She was paid shares, cash, and had renovations done to her house.

Botha, who was chairperson of Parliament’s social development portfolio committee, died in December 2014 after skin cancer she developed spread to her brain.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party noted the judgment and would wait until sentencing before commenting. Sentencing was expected in January next year.

After they were found guilty by the Northern Cape High Court on Wednesday, their bail was increased from R50 000 to R100 000, according to a statement on Wednesday by National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhang.

Northern Cape ANC secretary Zamani Saul said the corruption conviction of Block presented “a devastating blow to the ANC in the Northern Cape.

In a statement that announced the “voluntarily” resignation of Block as the provincial chairperson of the ANC, as the member of the provincial legislature and as the member of the executive council, Saul said the verdict against Block “left all of all of us shocked”.

“Comrade John Block cut his political teeth in the congress politics from a very young age, when it was of great risk to participate in the struggle for the liberation and has an illustrious political history,” said Saul.

He said Block led the ANC Youth League in the province, became the provincial secretary of the ANC, from then he became the deputy provincial chairperson and in 2004 he was elected the provincial chairperson of the ANC.

Saul described Block as “a star” with “an immeasurable intellect and immense talent”.

The ANC youth league in Northern Cape said it commended “the revolutionary conduct, political maturity and [Block’s] ability to put the interest of the ANC above his personal interest”.

“The [league] will continue to support this tried and tested leader in his endeavour to prove his innocence in higher courts. We are confident that the courts will find him innocent,” said the league’s Neo Maneng.

» For more in-depth coverage on the case, get your copy of City Press on Sunday
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