The Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday will continue to hear former president Jacob Zuma’s special-plea application to recuse the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) lead prosecutor, Billy Downer, from Zuma’s corruption trial.
Zuma’s medical records
On Tuesday, the former president’s health was once again the subject of much debate in court after it was revealed the NPA’s medical team believes he is medically fit to stand trial on multiple counts of fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering related to the multibillion-rand arms deal.
It was also revealed in court the State had subpoenaed Zuma’s medical records from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) following his release on medical parole two weeks ago after he was sentenced to 15 months in jail for being in contempt of the Constitutional Court. Zuma was only released after two months in prison.
The NPA wants his medical records to be handed over to Judge Piet Koen, but Zuma’s legal team, led by advocate Dali Mpofu, has argued against this, with the court putting the matter on hold for now.
Zuma’s absance in court ‘unlawful’
Although he had fought hard to be physically present in court for his corruption trial, Zuma was a no-show in court on Tuesday.
Mpofu informed Koen the former head of state was not able to attend the trial because his doctors were still monitoring him in Gauteng and advised him not to travel.
However, advocate Wim Trengove, acting for the NPA, said Zuma’s absence in court was, in effect, unlawful due to the state’s doctor’s finding that he was fit to stand trial, even though they did not physically examine him.
Attacks on Downer’s integrity
Zuma’s legal team fought to remove Downer from the arms deal case, arguing that he had leaked information to the media and accused him of being guilty of criminal conduct.
Mpofu also argued the entire NPA did not have the title to prosecute his client because of alleged widespread misconduct and political meddling by the prosecution.
But the defence’s arguments were vehemently opposed by Trengove, who argued Downer had conducted himself in a professional manner in the case and should be applauded and given a medal for his conduct.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court is expected to hear Zuma’s special-plea hearing from 11am.
WATCH LIVE: Zuma’s speal plea hearing resumes, courtesy of SABC News
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe