Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Hawks re-arrest former Northern Cape ANC leader John Block

Block has been arrested in connection with alleged fraud relating to a R51 million tender dating back to 2003.

The Hawks have arrested imprisoned former African National Congress (ANC) Northern Cape chair John Block in connection with allegations of fraud.

Block, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering at Upington Correctional Centre, was apprehended on Tuesday morning by the Hawks‘ Serious Corruption Investigation team.

Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi confirmed that the 55-year-old was arrested in connection with fraud allegations relating to a R51 million tender dating back to 2003.

ALSO READ: Former HOD, director arrested for Kimberley’s mental health facility scandal

The tender in question relates to the construction of a new mental health facility in Kimberley, which initially carried a budget of R290 million. However, the costs escalated to R420 million during Block’s tenure as the province’s roads and public works MEC.

Block was convicted of corruption and handed a 15-year jail sentence in 2015 for using his political influence to solicit bribes while serving as a Northern Cape official. It wasn’t until November 2018 that he began serving time, as his numerous appeals proved unsuccessful.

Recent arrests

Mnisi said Block’s arrest followed the recent arrest last week and the court appearance of a former head of department (HOD) for roads and public works and a company director in connection with the alleged dubious contract.

She confirmed that both the former HOD and Block face similar charges of fraud, while the company director is accused of corruption and money laundering.

“It is alleged that in 2003, Babereki Consulting Engineers CC was fraudulently awarded a tender as a structural civil engineer as well as project manager, within the mental health hospital construction project.

“During his tenure as a political head the accused and the former HOD Ms Patience Mercia Mokhali appointed Babereki Consulting Engineers CC whose director is Mr Tshegolekae Motaung though the company did not meet the necessary requirements. The actual amount involved is approximately R51 million,” Mnisi said in a statement.

Block is expected to appear before the Upington Magistrate’s Court this morning.

R420 million tender fraud

It is alleged that in 2003, the Northern Cape Department of Health together with the Department of Roads and Public Works as implementing agents embarked on a R290 million project to construct a new mental health facility in Kimberley.

It was found that some of the constructed buildings faced possible demolition. Also, it was discovered that the company appointed did not have the capacity to render the service. The contract was terminated after R420 million was paid to a liquidated contractor.

Work on the project has since been halted, leaving the facility incomplete and unusable.

The Hawks alleged that officials did not follow normal procurement procedures when appointing the consultant.

“The mental health hospital, while under construction, experienced issues of maladministration for the years that the project was in progress. There was no value for money,” the Hawks said in its statement last week.

NOW READ: Northern Cape health faces R1.2bn in lawsuits, with suits of R340m pending

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits