Northern Cape legislature misled on R7 million diamond heist

Andrew Louw MPL

DA Northern Cape Leader

The DA has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to probe ethics violations by Northern Cape Finance MEC John Block. This after a Mail and Guardian exposé revealed that MEC Block lied to the Legislature about his knowledge of the “theft” of R7 million worth of uncut diamonds purchased by his Department. The uncut diamonds were stolen from a private business premises in Kimberley in July 2012.

Strangely MEC Block has kept the theft very low-key and has not even launched an internal investigation into the theft even though no signs of forced entry were found. The Department had supposedly purchased the diamonds for a state-operated diamond polishing programme run by MEC Block’s Economic Development Department. The Department’s beneficiation operation, billed as a job creation project, has since failed to get off the ground. MEC Block lied to the legislature on two occasions, astonishingly claiming that he had “no knowledge” of any uncut diamonds that had been stolen. This was despite the fact that the Department was the initial entity that alerted the police.

Lying to the legislature is a direct ethics violation according to the Executive Ethics Code. Should the Public Protector conclude this simple investigation and find against MEC Block, we believe this would add to the overwhelming case for this removal from office. The DA will continue to oppose the corrupt leadership that has the Northern Cape government and its people in a stranglehold. The path to good governance and delivery in the Northern Cape is the path of competent, ethical management of public funds.

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