DA calls for premier to suspend Block

2012-11-21 18:53
John Block (Picture: Volksblad)

John Block (Picture: Volksblad)

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Johannesburg - Northern Cape premier Grizelda Cjiekella should suspend two MECs who appeared in court on fraud, corruption and money-laundering charges, the DA said on Wednesday.

The ANC's Northern Cape chairperson and Finance MEC John Block, Social Development MEC Alvin Botes, ANC MP Yolanda Botha, three officials of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), and a businessman appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Democratic Alliance Northern Cape leader Andrew Louw said the charges against Block and Botes should force Cjiekella to suspend them from their MEC positions.

"Premier Cjiekella has so far failed to suspend Mr Block from the finance MEC position, even though he already faces unrelated charges of fraud, racketeering and corruption in the Intaka case," Louw said in a statement.

"It is now so obvious that Mr Block can no longer continue to run the province's finances, that the premier has no choice but to remove him from his post with immediate effect."

The Intaka fraud and corruption trial of Block and former senior Sol Plaatje municipal officials was postponed to April 2013 in October.

The charges relate to alleged irregularities in the acquisition of a water purification plant by the Sol Plaatje municipality in April 2011.

On Wednesday, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said the seven were arrested for fraud, corruption and money-laundering to the value of R49m.

"Block, Botes, Botha and businessman Christo Scholtz were granted bail of R50 000 each," he said.

"The three Sassa officials Rodney Saal, Calvin Rayland and Palesa Lebona were released on R5 000 bail. The case was postponed to 7 March (2013)."

Hawks spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko said the seven were arrested at their houses around Kimberley on Wednesday morning, in connection with crimes committed between May 2005 and December 2009.

Louw said the charges against Block, Botha and Botes indicated that the African National Congress in the Northern Cape had "totally lost its moral compass".

"The entire ANC top five in this province now face serious corruption charges or allegations. Despite this, the recent ANC congress in Upington resoundingly elected these people to lead the party," he said.

Botes is the ANC's deputy secretary in the Northern Cape. Botha was elected provincial ANC treasurer in Upington earlier this year.

On 29 October, the asset forfeiture unit obtained an order to attach assets worth about R24m belonging to Botha.

The unit successfully argued that Botha disregarded tender procedures while she was head of social development in the Northern Cape, and signed lease agreements that benefited a company called Trifecta Investment Holdings.

In return, Trifecta apparently made renovations worth about R1.2m to her house.

Scholtz is the director of Trifecta.

Read more on:    sassa  |  anc  |  john block  |  alvin botes  |  yolanda botha  |  kimberley  |  corruption  |  politics

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