Hawks hold off on arrest of former Northern Cape ANC leader John Block

The arrests of former Northern Cape ANC chairperson John Block and his co-accused Christo Scholtz have been reserved until they appear in court on Monday, the Hawks in the province said on Thursday.

Provincial Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi told News24 that Block's and Scholtz's bail hearing would be heard in the High Court in Kimberley on Monday.

The two were supposed to hand themselves over to a correctional services facility in the province on Thursday to start their 15-year sentence for money laundering and corruption.

They were sentenced in December 2016, after being tried and convicted in the Northern Cape Division of the High Court.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein on Tuesday dismissed their appeal against the sentence.

The SABC had earlier reported that the two were now fugitives from justice.

The report said the Hawks in the Northern Cape had confirmed that they were looking for both men after they failed to report to a correctional services facility to start their sentence.

"They are not fugitives, that's wrong, because the Supreme Court (of Appeal) granted them leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court," said Mnisi.

Dodgy lease agreements

She confirmed that Block and Scholtz were supposed to hand themselves over on Thursday, but had not.

"So, for now, their arrests have been reserved until their bail hearing on Monday, where there will be an order issued with regard to detention or extension of bail," said Mnisi.

The charges against Block and Scholtz arose from a number of lease agreements concluded, between May 2006 and August 2008, by various state entities and departments in the Northern Cape with 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.

READ: Former ANC Northern Cape chair's appeal against 15-year sentence for corruption dismissed

Their business model was to identify rundown buildings which could be renovated into offices, and then leased to state entities.

A number of leases were concluded, which went to the heart of the charges brought against them.

The court found that Block, who was a senior politician in the province, had corruptly used his influence to ensure that Breda and his companies obtained certain leases.

These were concluded with the state without the necessary statutory protocols and procedures being followed.

Block was paid substantial gratifications, including two payments of R228 000 and R500 000.

Appeal fails

Block, who resigned as party chairperson and finance MEC shortly after he was found guilty in October 2015, had appealed the ruling.

"The SCA exhaustively analysed the evidence relating to these particular counts and held that the two amounts of R228 000 and R500 000 were corrupt gratifications which fell within the ambit of the charge of corruption set out in the indictment – which related solely to the conclusion of contracts of lease for two buildings, the Kimberlite Hotel and the NCTC Building," said the SCA.

It was argued on behalf of Block that he could not be convicted of corruption, as he had received these sums after the contracts had been concluded. The SCA rejected this.

Regarding the sentence, the SCA went on to say that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances which justified a lesser sentence than the 15 years prescribed by the legislature for this offence.

The SCA found, in Scholtz's case as well, that there were no special and compelling circumstances which justified the imposition of a sentence less than the prescribed minimum of 15 years imprisonment in respect of the corruption that fell within the indictment.