John Block's trial delayed until next year
Kimberley - The fraud and corruption trial of Northern Cape ANC leader John Block and former senior Sol Plaatje municipal officials was postponed to April 2013 on Thursday.
Northern Cape High Court Judge Cecile Williams provisionally set down the matter for April 16 2013.
Block, former Sol Plaatje mayor Patrick Lenyibi, municipal manager Frank Mashilo and chief financial officer Nandipha Madiba face charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act.
Facing the same charges are Intaka Holdings director Gaston Savoi and the company’s industrial director Fernando Praderi.
Madiba appeared without legal representation and told the court she was not sure where she stood in regard to the case.
‘Not sure what I’m doing here’
"I’m not sure what I’m doing here standing here [in the dock] and if I am a State witness."
The State submitted that Madiba would fall under the National Prosecuting Authority in future.
The charges relate to the acquisition of a portable water purification unit by the Sol Plaatje Municipality for Ritchie, an area near Kimberley, in April 2011.
It was alleged that Intaka was paid more than R2.7m before the plant was installed or commissioned. The Sol Plaatje Municipality includes Kimberley and surrounding areas such as Ritchie and Modder River.
Northern Cape Premier Hazel Jenkins attended court proceedings along with several ANC MECs. A police contingent kept watch in the pouring rain as opposing groups staged demonstrations.
Cordoned off with barbed wire
The African National Congress and Congress of the People supporters shouted slogans from under umbrellas outside the court, which was cordoned off with barbed wire.
To one side, a large mobile advertising board stated: "ANCYL Northern Cape fully supports John Fikile Block. Hands off our leader."
The bail of all six accused, of between R2 000 and R15 000, was extended to 2013. Proceedings in the High Court were delayed for most of Thursday morning.
This was because Block and Savoi first had to appear in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court in a separate matter. In this case, Block, Savoi and several others face tender, fraud and racketeering charges involving R112m.
The allegations relate to government departments purchasing water purification equipment at inflated prices in 2005 and 2006. The magistrate’s court postponed this matter to January 31 2013.