Former president Jacob Zuma has reiterated his criticism of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), accusing its lead prosecutor Billy Downer of being part of a conspiracy to get him arrested at all costs.
Without mentioning Downer’s name, Zuma accused Downer of smearing his name and providing information to the media on his arms deal corruption case.
He said his trial could not go ahead until the prosecutor was removed from the case.
“He met with newspaper reporters and gave them information about me on this case. He’s the one who was giving them information, saying: ‘don’t say this is me, but here’s the information’,” Zuma said speaking in Zulu.
He was speaking to his supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court following the postponement of his corruption case to 19 July 2021.
“I think this year will even end with the case being dismissed by the court. We are close to the conclusion of the case but we will hear in court what the prosecution has to say. I want to thank you for supporting me until now. They’re [the NPA] playing games with me.”
Judge Piet Koen postponed the case for the adjudication of Zuma’s special plea to remove Downer from prosecuting him.
The NPA has appointed advocates Wim Trengove, Andrew Breitenbach, Hephzibah Rajah and Ncumisa Mayosi to argue against Zuma’s bid to recuse Downer.
Earlier, Zuma’s legal team reserved his right to not disclose the basis of his defence in the trial.
The former president and French arms manufacturer Thales, which allegedly bribed him, are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal concluded in the 1990s.
Zuma is facing 16 counts including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering, while Thales faces four counts.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Zuma told his supporters he was innocent and the truth would be revealed in court when the trial gets under way.
“I was not part of the arms deal procurement but they will explain that to me in court,” he said.
Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was also among those in court to support Zuma.
Some of the former president’s allies who were in court included his son, Duduzane Zuma, ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala, former Cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba and MK Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus.