Johannesburg – The ANC in the Northern Cape is still backing its former chairperson, John Block, who was on Tuesday sentenced to 15 years in jai...
Johannesburg – The ANC in the Northern Cape is still backing its former chairperson, John Block, who was on Tuesday sentenced to 15 years in jail for his role in a multi-million rand corruption scandal.
The party’s youth league in the province has also come out in support of the former MEC.
Block and former businessman Christo Scholtz were sentenced to an effective 15 years in jail for money laundering and corruption.
Block also received a confiscation order of R2m for his assets while Scholtz received one for R53m.
The party’s secretary in the province, Zamani Saul, told News24 the party was devastated by the sentencing.
“We are quite shocked and devastated,” Saul said.
Block and Scholtz were involved in leasing Trifecta office space in Kimberly, Upington and Springbok to the Northern Cape social development department at inflated prices.
Scholtz was a director in Trifecta Holdings, which secured the tenders for the leases.
‘No one is above the law’
Block resigned as party chairperson and finance MEC shortly after he was found guilty of fraud and money laundering in October last year. His resignation also followed a recommendation by the ANC’s integrity commission that he steps aside for putting the party into disrepute.
The party says it will continue to support Block, whose bail has been extended as he plans to appeal the sentence.
“We support his bid to appeal both his conviction and sentence,” Saul said.
The Democratic Alliance has welcomed the sentence, saying it sends out a strong message to government officials, especially those who are privy to tender processes, that they will face the full might of the law if found guilty of corruption.
“[The] most important thing is people must be reminded that no one is above the law,” DA leader in Northern Cape Andrew Louw said.
Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League in the province said it was still backing Block and believes another court will come to a different conclusion.
‘Justice delayed is justice denied’
“As the youth league we are supporting John, we will continue to support John,” league provincial chair Neo Maneng told News24.
Maneng added that Block was not treated fairly by the courts after his conviction, with more than a year having passed since he was found guilty in October last year.
“We have urged him to appeal this thing. Actually, we have been impatient because the sentencing took long. You will know the basics of the law; justice delayed is justice denied.”
“The fact is even after he was found guilty he was subjected to [additional] emotional torture where sentencing was postponed and postponed.”
Maneng said Block’s leadership in the province is missed, with signs of disunity emerging in the province since his resignation.
“Whether he is in prison or not, you cannot talk about the ANC in this province without mentioning John Block. Whether he goes to prison or what, the fact of the matter is that John has built the ANC in this province and has put the ANC on the map. He has led the ANC with dignity during his time.
“Of all provinces nationally this was the most stable and united province. And already since he has left we are seeing signs of disunity because he is not there to provide leadership.”
Before his conviction Block was seen as a potential candidate for premier in the Northern Cape.