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Trifecta accused await fate

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The State has decided not to argue the money laundering charges, as it believes that it is a duplication of charges

John Block

FOLLOWING one of the biggest corruption cases that has ever been prosecuted in the Northern Cape, the accused in the Trifecta case are now awaiting their fate after arguments were presented in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein last week, following a 12-year legal battle.

The accused, former ANC provincial chairperson John Block and the CEO of the Trifecta group of companies, Christo Scholtz, were found guilty of corruption and money laundering in the Northern Cape High Court and were each sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2016.

The charges relate to leases that were awarded to Trifecta for government offices.

Judgment was reserved in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Friday, where Block and Scholtz are trying to overturn their convictions and sentences.

The State has decided not to argue the money laundering charges in the Supreme Court of Appeal, as it believes that it is a duplication of charges.

According to a local legal practitioner, the accused have a right to approach the Constitutional Court should their application at the Supreme Court of Appeal not succeed.

This is despite the State stipulating that there were no constitutional issues to be decided upon.

The legal practitioner stated that it would be up to the Constitutional Court whether it would hear the matter.

“If the Constitutional Court decides to entertain the matter, it will either be heard before a full or partial bench. However, if they decide that the case is without merit, they will dismiss the matter without hearing any arguments.”

He estimated that the outcome of the application to the Supreme Court of Appeal could be expected to be made available in the next three months.

“If the Supreme Court of Appeal rules in their favour, they will not be facing any jail time. However, if they are not successful, the accused should remain on bail until the outcome of the Constitutional Court matter, if the application for leave to appeal is granted. If they are successful, it would take between three and six months for the matter to be brought before the Constitutional Court.”

He pointed out that the fact that the appellants had chosen not to take the stand during the trial could count against them.