Picture: for illustration purposes

Former Northern Cape ANC Chair, John Block, may soon walk free

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Former ANC chairperson from Northern Cape, John Block has an expectation of release in less than 21 days following a directive from Northern Cape High Court. The court has ordered the Upington Correctional Supervision and Parole Board to consider his special sentence remission request based on meritorious services rendered during his incarceration period.

Judge APS Nxumalo observed Block’s various contributions including tutoring of inmates over two years, book donations, employing an ex-offender on his farm, and organising for the donation of soccer boots for four prison soccer teams. Despite the dismissal of Block's request for a Covid-19 special remission of sentence, for narrowly missing the qualifying criteria, the consideration for meritorious service remission is still promising.

Block is currently serving a 13-year sentence for corruption charges since November 2018. The Covid-19 special remission of sentence was granted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in May 2020 targeting low-risk offenders to help manage prison populations amidst the pandemic crisis.

According to Judge Nxumalo, despite the confusion over the exact qualifying dates for the special remission, the former ANC chairperson exhibited clear contribution by acting highly meritoriously, thus fulfilling the requirements for remission on those grounds. Nxumalo emphasised that declaring the decision to overlook Block's contributions as irrelevant was influenced by an error in law.

Furthermore, the issue of bias was raised against Mr SL Du Plessis, who collected information relating to Block's eligibility for special remission. Du Plessis, who had friction with Block, criticised the method Block used to secure the donation of soccer boots, raising questions about the fairness of his report.

The Upington Correctional Supervision and Parole Board has been requested by Nxumalo to consider Block's remission of sentence within three weeks.

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