Defence plays down Block phone call

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JOHN BLOCK AGAIN!!!

INLSA

Northern Cape ANC leader John Block is on trial for fraud. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Kimberley - A phone call from Northern Cape ANC leader John Block to a government official could not have had any influence on Trifecta leases, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

“Block's phone call had no effect,” Block's lawyer Salie Joubert put to State witness John Crouch.

Joubert was cross-examining Crouch, once the head of a former unit in the Northern Cape department of public works responsible for getting accommodation for state departments in the province.

Judge Mathebe Phatshoane was hearing evidence in a fraud and corruption case against Block, Alvin Botes, ANC MP Yolanda Botha and Trifecta director Christo Scholtz.

The National Prosecuting Authority alleges the Trifecta Group entered into a number of lease agreements with the Northern Cape social development department in which rentals, or rental space, were grossly inflated. The accused have all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them or their companies.

Earlier, Crouch testified he treated a request by Block to help a business friend, a Trifecta director, as an order.

“I saw it as an order to help... with office accommodation in the province. We listen to our leaders,” said Crouch.

Joubert argued that at that time Crouch had no authority to sign or decide on lease agreements. This power had been taken away by the then premier, who delegated the leasing of office space to each individual department.

Jaap Cilliers, for Scholtz and Trifecta, complimented Crouch for work well done because he had done nothing wrong.

“It's obvious what the police have done. They have talked you scared... they made you feel they had a good case against you,” Cilliers said, to laughter from the public gallery.

Crouch initially faced fraud charges in the Trifecta case, but turned State witness. He stands to receive amnesty from the Trifecta-related charges if the court finds he testified truthfully.

Cilliers argued the police frightened Crouch to the extent that he said things they wanted to hear.

“They have done it (filed charges) to manipulate you.”

Crouch confirmed this statement.

“You have done nothing wrong, you did your work correctly,” Cilliers told the witness, who agreed.

He further put it to Crouch that by the time he felt pressure from a Trifecta director, Sarel Breda, he no longer had influence on leases.

The trial continues.

Sapa


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