Block not humiliated, say supporters

2010-11-10 14:48

Efforts to humiliate Northern Cape ANC leader John Block have “turned to dust”, his supporters claimed today after the local political leader was granted bail by the Kimberley Magistrates Court.

Magistrate Lance Roach released Block and co-accused, businessman Gaston Savoi, on conditional bail of R100 000 each.

Delivering judgment, Roach said it was not understandable why the state changed its mind and decided to oppose Block’s bail. It could only be speculated that there was either a “political agenda” or “show of force” behind the decision.

Provincial ANC secretary Zamani Saul told about 200 supporters outside court: “The ANC trained us when ANC leaders are challenged we stand up and fight for them.”

Block, Savoi and seven others are charged with alleged tender fraud estimated at R112 million. They allegedly bought water purification equipment for Kimberley Hospital from Intaka Holdings, which is owned by Savoi, at inflated prices in 2005 and 2006.

The case was postponed to March 18, 2011 for further investigation.

Several regional ANC leaders picked up on Roach’s “political agenda” remark during his bail judgment, and proclaimed their support for the provincial party leader.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) expressed concern about Roach’s remarks. It was “worrying” that his comments bordered on the “political”, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.

“Where he says the [state’s] move to oppose bail could either be a political agenda or show of power, which is equally worrying and disturbing.” Mhaga said this was not the case.

The NPA would study the judgment and prepare accordingly, and expressed hope the two men would stick to their bail conditions.

Earlier, the Northern Cape ANCYL said it wouldn’t apologise for its attack on chief prosecutor Menzi Simelane. Simelane, the head of the NPA, was prosecuting the case against Block and the others himself.

“The ANCYL is standing by its decision and will not apologise to anyone when we defend John Block,” Northern Cape league chairperson Shadrack Tlhaole told the crowd outside the court.

He said the Youth League had lost confidence in Simelane.

Tlhaole was reacting to a reprimand by the national ANC for calling Simelane a “rented dog of a political conspiracy” following Block’s arrest.

The ANC Youth League in the Northern Cape issued a statement on Monday, saying it had “analysed” the charges and concluded there was no prima facie case against Block.

It said the charges were brought by “the private army of Menzi Simelane and others”.

Reacting to Block’s release, Tlhaole said the youth league would not allow people to use state resources to settle “political scores”.

“It happened that we have called people by name since Polokwane,” he said, referring to the ANC’s last elective conference.

Tlhaole said the local ANCYL would continue to raise its dissatisfaction about the matter.

Bail paid, Block proclaimed his innocence to his supporters, and said he would abide by the court’s decision. He denied receiving special police treatment while in custody.

“I was told by police to bring a mattress and blanket because they do not have any.” Block said he also did not live on take-aways, but ate food prepared at home for him.

The ANC leader, who was also Northern Cape finance, economic development and tourism MEC, also referred to the “show of force” statement made in court.

“There is no way I would run from this case. I’m innocent and will prove it in court.”

Block and Savoi’s bail conditions included them not being allowed to change their residential addresses without the permission of investigators and the NPA. They were not allowed to contact State witnesses directly or indirectly.

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