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‘Premier must break her silence on Block’

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Cope national chairperson Pakes Dikgetsi has called on Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas to be vocal and state what action she will take against those involved in the Trifecta matter.

Pakes Dikgetsi

COPE national chairperson Pakes Dikgetsi has called on Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas to be vocal and state what action she will take against those involved in the Trifecta matter following John Block’s incarceration.

Block, the former ANC provincial chairperson, handed himself over to Correctional Services on Tuesday to start his 15-year sentence after last week losing his application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court against his conviction and sentence.

Block, along with the CEO of the Trifecta group of companies, Christo Scholtz, was found guilty in the Northern Cape High Court in 2016 on charges of corruption and money laundering, where leases were concluded for government offices in the Northern Cape with the Trifecta group of companies in exchange for gratifications in the form of shares, cash and renovations to properties.

Dikgetsi said at a press briefing yesterday that he is deeply concerned that Lucas has gone mum on the matter now that Block is behind bars.

“The premier has gone silent on the implications of the convicting and jailing of John Block. She has not said anything on the matter. Lucas had during the trial abandoned her duties to support Block, knowing that he had stolen from the poor. To Lucas and others, Block was a role-model. We expect Lucas to make a statement condemning Block as she entrusted him with the money of the people. She must do what is morally correct,” said Dikgetsi.

He added that Lucas also has the responsibility to take action against other officials who were linked to the Trifecta matter.

“There has been destruction left behind by the Block saga and Lucas must ensure that there is a thorough investigation into the money that was spent in this matter. (Christo) Scholtz has benefited far more than what he is paying back to the State. There were officials who aided this scheme who also need to be named and brought to justice. Block was not the only one involved in the matter and Yolanda Botha was also not acting alone. The bid committee did not only consist of Botha … and those officials involved also need to be held accountable. Lucas needs to take up moral leadership. She has taken an oath to carry out the responsibilities for the people.”

Dikgetsi said that Cope had given Lucas one week to take action or it would approach the Office of the Public Protector.

“If the premier fails to address the people on what she is going to do, we will approach the Office of the Public Protector to investigate her conduct. We cannot allow this to continue. We are not interested in the factional battles in the ANC but the moral leadership of Lucas. Confidence in state institutions must be restored,” Dikgetsi said.

The DA provincial leader, Andrew Louw, has supported the call for others alleged to be involved in the Trifecta matter to be identified.

“While (John) Block has spent the first night of his 15-year jail sentence behind bars, there are still too many others in government who walk free despite their involvement in corruption. The DA is calling on Premier Sylvia Lucas to establish an inquiry into projects, departments and contracts that involved Block and his associates,” said Louw yesterday.

“Block served in different roles as a MPL and as a MEC since 1994, coming into contact with all government portfolios, especially the departments of Transport, Roads and Public Works and Economic Development. In this time, he was able to establish an intricate network of cronies with influence, who were able to manipulate government processes to their own benefit. While we do not know the true extent of this web of corruption, we know that it runs far deeper than the Trifecta scandal that finally landed Block in jail.”

Louw pointed out that while Block may be behind bars, it does not mean that corruption will now be eradicated.

“While the DA hopes that a task team will be established to root out the rot that took hold in the Northern Cape government in the more than two decades under Block’s influence, we doubt this will happen. This is because the failing ANC has declared its continued support for Block, even implying that they would welcome him back into party structures once his sentence is served. Clearly, the failing ANC doesn’t consider corruption an impediment to service delivery,” said Louw.