Trifecta Holdings chief executive Christo Scholtz (left) and former ANC Northern Cape chairperson John Block are expected to spend Christmas in jail after the Constitutional Court dismissed their leave to appeal their conviction and sentencing. They were convicted of corruption and money laundering. Photo: Danie van der Lith
Cape Town – Former ANC Northern Cape chairperson John Block has become one of the first senior leaders of the governing party to be convicted of corruption in democratic South Africa.

It is the end of the road for Block and his co-accused, Christo Scholtz, the chief executive of Trifecta Holdings, after the Constitutional Court yesterday turned down their application to appeal against their conviction and sentences.

They are expected to spend Christmas behind bars as the Constitutional Court was their last recourse against the State.

The court ruling, which was delivered by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in a quorum with nine other judges, indicated that Block’s application was dismissed as it bore “no prospect of success”.

Mogoeng, in quorum with eight judges, also dismissed the application for leave to appeal by Scholtz and his list of Trifecta companies.

Block and Scholtz were found guilty on charges of corruption and money laundering in the Northern Cape High Court in December 2016, relating to leases that were concluded between provincial government departments and the Trifecta group of companies.

They were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment each, whereupon they appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The appeal was dismissed on August 21 this year in Bloemfontein, where SCA Judge Eric Leach found that Block had used his influence to coerce officials to conclude irregular leases with Trifecta in contravention of supply chain management procedures. 

In return, Block received gratifications in the form of shares in Trifecta, renovations to his guest house in Upington and cash payments.

Judge Leach found it improbable that Scholtz “knew nothing” about payments made by his company to politicians or negotiations that were concluded regarding the leases.

The spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Phaladi Shuping, stated that the registrar of the Northern Cape High Court would issue a detention warrant to inform the appellants' legal representatives of the Constitutional Court's decision.

“Once the defence lawyers have been informed, Block and Scholtz will be given between two to five days to hand themselves over to the authorities.”

Shuping did not believe that it would be necessary to issue a warrant of arrest.

“There is no way that Block and Scholtz can refuse to hand themselves over. The NPA did not expect that the matter would remain on the court rolls for more than five years. 

"We trust that they will respect the legal processes as they attended all court proceedings during the course of the trial.”

He added that the process of Block and Scholtz handing themselves over at a correctional facility in Kimberley would be prolonged if they happened to be out of the country.

Cape Times