Jacob Zuma and advocate Billy Downer to lock horns in court again

Downer is accused of bias in the arms deal case against the former president, as well as leaking his medical records.

Former president Jacob Zuma will be in the Pietermaritzburg High Court today as his legal team attempts to block the bid by state advocate Billy Downer to have Zuma’s private prosecution case against the prosecutor quashed.

In September last year, Zuma launched a private prosecution against Downer, who is the lead prosecutor in the former president’s arms deal corruption case after accusing Downer of leaking his medical records to News24 journalist Karyn Maughan.

The private prosecution of Downer came after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had declined to prosecute the state advocate on the basis of the criminal charges that Zuma laid against him in 2021.

Apart from the alleged leaking of criminal records, Zuma was in general not happy with the manner in which Downer has handled the former president’s arms deal case, where Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from French arms company Thales during the country’s procurement of arms in the 90s.

At the time of the arms deal, Zuma was the KZN MEC for economic development.

Among other things, Zuma, who maintains that Downer was biased against him, claimed that the state advocate had been part of a plot to have Zuma charged for the arms deal offence at all costs.

As a result of Downer’s bias, Zuma claimed, Downer was no longer fit to be a prosecutor in the arms deal corruption case.

After several court attempts to have advocate Downer removed from the arms deal case, the Constitutional Court in December last year dismissed what was Zuma’s last attempt to have the state prosecutor removed from the case.

Zuma’s battle to have Downer removed has already resulted in delays in the resumption of the arms deal trial against the former president.

In June last year, Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Piet Koen, who had earlier ruled against Zuma’s application for Downer’s removal, recused himself from the arms deal corruption trial.

However, the NPA, which has defended Downer, made it clear that it had no intention to remove the state advocate from the arms deal corruption trial case.

On Zuma’s claims that Downer leaked Zuma’s medical report to Maughan, the NPA said the report was a public document as it formed part of court documents in the arms deal corruption matter.

Apart from Downer and Maughan, Zuma has also initiated private prosecution processes against President Cyril Ramaphosa, after the former president accused him of failing to act on a complaint against Downer which Zuma lodged with Ramaphosa.

In December, Zuma served Ramaphosa with court papers compelling president to appear in a criminal court to answer allegations that he violated the former president’s rights by not taking action against Downer.

However, the courts have since ruled that Zuma’s private prosecution of Ramaphosa be put on hold pending a court determination as to whether the former president has the right to prosecute Ramaphosa.

Mzwanele Manyi, the spokesperson of Zuma’s JG Zuma Foundation, confirmed Zuma’s court appearance today.

Read original story on www.citizen.co.za

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