Former MEC in the dock for alleged R51 million tender fraud | The Citizen

Former MEC in the dock for alleged R51 million tender fraud | The Citizen

Former MEC in the dock for alleged R51 million tender fraud | The Citizen

Former MEC of transport, roads and public works John Block appeared in the Upington Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in connection with a R51 million tender fraud.

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.

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“It is alleged that in 2023, 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,” said Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi on Tuesday.

“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.”

Block was remanded in custody as he is currently serving his 15 years of direct imprisonment at the Upington Correctional Services.

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He was convicted of fraud, corruption and money laundering in 2015 and sentenced to the 15-year jail term. He, however, only started serving time in 2018 after multiple unsuccessful appeals in the superior courts, including the Constitutional Court.

John Block, who is accused number 4 in this matter, will be joining his co-accused Patience Mercia Nokhwezi Mokhali, and Tshegolekae Motaung, in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 11 July 2023.

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.

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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.

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe