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Parties demand clarity on Block, Scholtz parole

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If no direction is given by the Department of Correctional Services, Cope has threatened to go straight to President Cyril Ramaphosa for an answer.

Convicted CEO of Trifecta Holdings Christo Scholtz and former ANC Provincial chairperson John Block.

COPE will request President Cyril Ramaphosa provide clarity over whether former ANC provincial chairperson John Block and his co-accused Christo Scholtz the CEO of the Trifecta group of companies, will be given early parole, as part of the 19 000 inmates who will qualify for early release in order to reduce overcrowding in prisons and prevent Covid-19 infections. 

Block and Scholtz were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, relating to multi-million Rand tenders that were facilitated for government leases in the Northern Cape. 

Cope national spokesperson, and former chairperson of the parliamentary committee on correctional services, Dennis Bloem said he had given the portfolio committee on correctional services until the close of business on Thursday to provide some direction. 

“I will be asking the President to tell the country if he is still against corruption.” 

This follows after the deputy minister of Correctional Services Patekile Holomisa and national commissioner Arthur Fraser failed to confirm or deny the possibility of the accused to be considered eligible for parole, during a virtual parliamentary meeting that was held on Wednesday. 

Bloem stated that the lack of answers implied that there was a strong possibility that Block and Scholtz would qualify for early parole. 

“We received reliable information from senior officials inside the department. If they were not being considered the department would have implicitly put all speculation to rest a long time ago. 

“Inmates are very upset that Block may receive preferential treatment through his political connections. I received numerous calls from families of inmates who are serving time for cash-in-transit heists. They feel that they should also be given parole. Parole is a privilege and not a right.”  

He pointed out that prisoners were expected to serve at least half of their sentences before being considered for parole. 

“Block and Scholtz have only served 18 months of their 15 year sentences after they were found guilty on serious charges involving taxpayer’s money. The department cannot only release Block without also granting parole to his co-accused.” 

DA member of parliament, James Selfe,  indicated on Thursday that he had also not received any feedback regarding speculation of Block’s early parole from the portfolio committee on correctional services. 

“The response of the Department of Correctional Services was vague. We will follow up with the national commissioner (Fraser) as this is a very serious matter. If the accused are released under the guise of Covid-19, it will send out a strong message that corruption in the public sector and those who are politically connected, will go unpunished.” 

The EFF in the Province stated that it would issue a statement at a later stage. 

The Department of Correctional Services did not respond to media enquiries or indicate when the names of inmates who qualified for the Covid-19 dispensation would be finalised or when they would be released.