Cosatu welcomes Block's arrest

2010-11-05 19:03

Johannesburg - Cosatu on Friday welcomed the arrest of Northern Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC John Block, as well as seven others, on charges of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money-laundering.

"We warmly welcome this clear sign that the state is now seriously pursuing those who have been implicated in allegations of corruption, and in particular the abuse of tender procedures," Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement.

He said it followed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's commitment that the government would clamp down on crooks.

Gordhan had said this would be achieved by introducing new public disclosure rules for all prospective government contracts, and imposing stuff penalties on companies and individuals involved in tender corruption.

Craven also praised Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi for his recent plan to set up a special anti-corruption unit to investigate dodgy dealings by senior government officials.

"Let us hope that the tide has now turned against the tenderpreneurs who have been looting the country's resources in order to enrich themselves," he said.

The ANC, however, said it believed Block was innocent until proven guilty.

"We would not like to speculate on the matter... As a law-abiding organisation, the ANC is of the view that the law should take its course," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said on Friday.

Block was among seven others arrested by the Hawks on alleged tender fraud, related to the purchase of water purifiers and oxygen generators for the Kimberley Hospital.

It is part of an investigation into a R200m corruption case that has already seen eight people arrested in KwaZulu-Natal.

Block and Gaston Savoi, owner of Intaka Holdings, were refused bail on Thursday. They will return with the other six others to the same court on November 9.

Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) on Friday said Block's arrest must be a demonstration of strict governance against corrupt high-ranking officials.

"It is the law of the land that a person be seen as innocent until proven guilty, yet it's also important for corruption to be seen as a serious injustice against the people of South Africa, who place their trust in their leaders (and) who are not meant to abuse their powers for their own benefit," Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said in a statement.

"Tender-fraud is especially a huge problem in our country and we need to fight against this."

The union said it supported government in its objective to reduce and prevent crime.