By Andrew Louw MPL, DA Provincial Leader:
The DA welcomes the assurance given by Premier Sylvia Lucas during yesterday’s House Sitting that she will personally ensure that the full bill of legal fees, paid by the state for the Trifecta court case, will be disclosed and will be provided to the DA.
This assurance to provide the DA with the legal bill comes after I posed a question to the Premier pertaining to the costs of the legal fees for the Trifecta court case that have been carried by the state.
The Premier also committed the state law advisor to giving me a response on who authorised the expenditure and which policy, law and or other relevant documentation was used to justify such expenditure, and whether any of this expenditure will be recouped.
According to the Premier, she is only aware of a request for financial assistance from the late Yolanda Botha, who was at the time the HOD of Social Development. She promised that if there is any other information, she will have the state law advisor send it to me.
In September, the Office of the Premier previously confirmed that the Department of Social Development did indeed pay legal fees for the late Yolanda Botha in the Trifecta case. At the time, however, they refrained from commenting on the payment of legal fees for now convicted criminal, John Block, and Alvin Botes, who was found not guilty.
The DA has been probing the issue of the payment of legal fees for corruption-related court cases since 2010, when we submitted a parliamentary question to then Premier Hazel Jenkins, asking whether any government entities had contributed towards paying Block’s bail money and legal fees. A reply to this question was never received.
The DA is of the firm view that the state should not be liable for the enormous legal costs associated with corruption charges.
While it is common practice in countries around the world to pay such costs when charges relate to the carrying out of official duties, it is certainly not so when, as in this case, the charges relate to criminal misconduct and are wholly unrelated to the work of the state.
The DA anxiously awaits a reply from the Premier and we hope that, in the best interests of the people of this province, she will be open and honest with the facts. Then John Block must pay back every cent of the public money used to defend him unsuccessfully, because he was found guilty of fraud, corruption and money laundering.
The spending of taxpayers’ money on corruption cases instead of on government programmes that improve the lives of all citizens of the Northern Cape cannot be tolerated. Pending the response we receive from the Premier, we will take a decision on how best to pursue the matter.