Supreme Court upholds confiscation of R60m from company linked to ex-ANC leader John Block

01 October 2019 - 19:54
By Ernest Mabuza
Former ANC Northern Cape chairman John Block was sentenced to 15 years for corruption.
Image: Tsheko Kabasia Former ANC Northern Cape chairman John Block was sentenced to 15 years for corruption.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Tuesday upheld the Asset Forfeiture Unit's confiscation of R59.8m belonging to the Trifecta group of companies to the state.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the SCA struck Trifecta’s application for leave to appeal and condonation against the Kimberley High Court’s decision off the roll. The high court's decision ordered the forfeiture on the basis that there was no proper explanation for the lengthy delay of about 10 months before Trifecta launched its application.

The judgment emanates from the conviction of Christo Scholtz and his six companies for corruption and money laundering at the Kimberley High Court in 2016. Scholtz and former ANC Northern Cape chairman John Block were sentenced to 15-year jail terms each for corruption.

In August last year, the SCA dismissed the appeal by Block and Scholtz against their convictions.

Following Scholtz's conviction in 2016, the Asset Forfeiture Unit was granted a confiscation order of more than R6m in respect of profit Trifecta derived and retained from six corruptly acquired lease agreements. It was also granted a confiscation order of more than R53m pertaining to an added advantage gained due to the fact that no competitive tender procedures were followed when the leases were awarded.

The NPA said on Tuesday that the SCA's judgment brought to finality both criminal and financial investigations, which commenced in 2011.

The NPA said criminal prosecution in this matter lasted for more than five years and the asset forfeiture process took almost six years. The prosecuting authority said the R59.8m will be returned to National Treasury.

The charges on which Block and Scholtz were convicted arose from lease agreements from May 2006 to August 2008 between various state entities and departments in the Northern Cape and members of what became known as the Trifecta Group of Companies.

Scholtz‚ a businessman from Pretoria who was engaged in the private equity business‚ came into contact with Sarel Breda‚ with whom he identified business prospects in the Northern Cape.

Their business model was to identify rundown buildings that could be renovated into offices and then leased to state entities. In due course a number of leases were concluded‚ which went to the heart of the charges that were brought later.

The Northern Cape High Court held that Block‚ then a senior politician in the province‚ had corruptly used his influence to ensure that Breda and his companies obtained some of the leases. They were concluded with the state without the necessary statutory protocols and procedures being followed.

Breda died in a plane crash in 2009.

Block was paid substantial gratifications‚ including two sums of R228‚000 and R500‚000.