Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Zuma’s bid to prosecute Downer and Maughan dismissed

Zuma has been ordered to pay the costs incurred in the legal proceedings.

The High Court in Pietermaritzburg has dismissed the private prosecution initiated by former President Jacob Zuma against arms deal prosecutor Billy Downer and News24 journalist Karyn Maughan.

Zuma has been ordered to pay the costs incurred in the legal proceedings.

Zuma’s private prosecution bid

The high court on Wednesday delivered judgment in applications brought by Downer and Maughan to set aside Zuma’s private prosecution.

ALSO READ: Lawyers poke holes into Zuma private prosecution case

“The respondent [Zuma] is interdicted and restrained from reinstituting, proceeding with, or from taking any further steps pursuant to, the private prosecution referred to…

“The costs of this application are to be paid by the respondent on an attorney and own client scale, such costs to include the costs of two counsel where so employed,” read the court’s order.

Zuma to appeal ruling

In a terse statement on Twitter, Zuma’s foundation said the former president would appeal the high court’s ruling.

The foundation described the judgment as “bizarre”.

Zuma’s medical information

Zuma instituted the private prosecution proceedings against the pair after he accused Downer – the lead prosecutor in his arms deal corruption trial – of leaking his confidential medical information to Maughan in August 2021.

In September last year, the former president issued summonses to both Downer and Maughan, compelling them to appear in court for private prosecution. The pair then filed applications challenging the summons they received in relation to the case.

Downer and Maughan contended they did not leak the former president’s medical information, emphasising the information was publicly available in court documents and did not include confidential details.

Advocate Steven Budlender, representing Maughan, argued in court that Zuma failed to acquire a nolle prosequi certificate against his client. This certificate is necessary for private prosecutions and is issued by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) when it decides not to pursue a case.

Budlender further argued that the reason behind the former president’s charges against Maughan was his “exceptional animosity” towards her, highlighting Zuma’s displeasure with Maughan’s coverage of the arms deal corruption case throughout the years.

Zuma vs Ramaphosa

Meanwhile, Zuma has also instituted private prosecution proceedings against his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, for accusing him of being an “accessory after the fact” in relation to the charges he brought against Downer and Maughan.

According to Zuma, Ramaphosa should be tried for criminal liability for allegedly not acting against the pair when he lodged a complaint with the Presidency over the alleged leak of his medical information.

Ramaphosa is challenging Zuma’s private prosecution bid against him and the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg last month reserved judgment in the case.

NOW READ: Judgment reserved in Ramaphosa’s challenge of Zuma’s private prosecution

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