Kimberley – Former ANC provincial chairman, John Block, had to scramble to raise another R50 000 to prevent spending the festive season behind bars shortly after he told the court that he was broke and unemployed during his bail hearing on Wednesday.
Block and his co-accused, the CEO of Trifecta Investments, Christo Scholtz, were granted bail of R150 000 each in the Northern Cape High Court after they were sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for corruption and money laundering earlier this week.
The charges related to multimillion-rand government leases that were awarded to the Trifecta group of companies for offices in the Northern Cape.
While Scholtz was able to raise his bail money, which was increased from R100 000 to R150 000, senior advocate Salie Joubert indicated that his client, Block, had no income and no job.
“Block does not have the additional R50 000 as he is no longer employed and has no further income. He did the honourable thing and resigned from his post. I do not know any other politician who resigned.
“This clearly shows that he is a man of honour.”
Joubert, however, believed that his client would somehow raise the necessary funds to pay bail.
He added that it would also be difficult to access finances to pursue the special entry application which they intended directing to the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal within the next 21 days.
Judge Mmathebe Phatshoane dismissed an application in which Block wanted the Judicial Services Commission to investigate her impartiality. Block was of the opinion that he was not given a fair trial.
The complaint was based on an apparent telephone conversation between Phatshoane and Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo, during which he apparently told her to “convict the bastards”.
Joubert added that they would apply for leave to appeal the criminal charges, on the basis of the refusal of the court to grant an application to investigate Phatshoane.
“Arrangements will be made for the confiscation order to be paid before January 6 2017.”
Block also agreed to hand over R2 million of his assets to the state.
The legal representative for Scholtz, senior advocate Jaap Cilliers, pointed out that the 15-year minimum prescribed sentence imposed had not come as a surprise.
He requested that the matter be postponed until next year for an application for leave to appeal the criminal charges as well as the confiscation order relating to the seizure of Scholtz’s assets to the value of R60 million and R1.2 million from the Trifecta group of companies.
He asked the court to extend the bail of his client on the same conditions.
“During the four-year trial both accused proved that they can be trusted by the court.”
Before bail was set on Wednesday, Cilliers said that although Scholtz’s bail had increased to R100 000 following his conviction, he was willing to provide an additional R50 000 if needed.
State advocate Peter Serunye did not oppose bail for the accused as he did not deem them to be a flight risk.
“If necessary all ports of entry will be red flagged.”
He also requested a postponement as he needed time to study the “voluminous” application for leave to appeal.
“We need to apply our minds on the issues raised in the likelihood that proceedings might end up in higher courts.”
Phatshoane stated that the passports of both accused would remain in the possession of the investigating officer until the outcome of the appeal.
“During this time they will not be allowed to travel aboard.”
She determined that the application for leave to appeal the convictions and sentences, as well as Scholtz’s confiscation order, would be heard in the Northern Cape High Court on February 6 2017.