Zuma agrees to state’s proposal to expedite Downer removal matter in arms deal case
Zuma's lawyers and their state counterparts were expected to face off for arguments in a new application to have Downer removed.
Picture File: State prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer and legal journalist Karyn Maughan appearing before the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Photo: Gallo Images
Former president Jacob Zuma has agreed to the state’s proposal to expedite his application for the removal of State Advocate Billy Downer from the arms deal corruption case.
Zuma’s lawyers and their state counterparts were expected to face off for arguments in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday, in a new application by Zuma to have Downer removed.
However, the Office of the Chief Justice cancelled the hearing to conduct a virtual case management meeting with all parties involved on the dates previously scheduled for the sitting.
Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said the parties in the “Downer removal/recusal application met with KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Thoba Poyo-Dlwati this morning.
“The meeting was cordial and issues related to the related litigation pending before the Supreme Court of Appeal and the possible implications thereof on the removal application were raised and fully discussed.
“Ultimately the state proposed the present application be dealt with expeditiously and as soon as possible. The applicant’s legal team requested an opportunity to consult with their client for his response to the proposal, which was granted until Friday 18 August 2023,” Manyi said.
Manyi said Zuma had no issues with the matter being dealt with expeditiously.
“Due to the importance of the case and to avoid any further unnecessary delays, and even before that deadline, H.E President Zuma has agreed to the state’s proposal even before the agreed time.”
Manyi added a letter has been sent out to Judge President Poyo-Dlwati and the parties earlier this afternoon.
Zuma wants Downer recused, arguing the prosecutor on the arms deal case had leaked his private medical records to News24 senior legal journalist Karyn Maughan in August 2021.
Both Maughan and Downer denied any wrongdoing, pointing out Zuma’s illness, which formed the basis of his medical parole, is not known to the public.
However, on 3 August, the Pietermaritzburg High Court declined to suspend its 7 June ruling, which declared Zuma’s private prosecution unlawful and set aside the matter, pending the final determination of the former president’s application for leave to appeal.
Downer and Maughan lodged an enforcement appeal, asking the high court for an order to block Zuma from further pursuing private prosecution against them while he appealed the matter.
But the former president took the enforcement order granted by the High Court on appeal.
Zuma called for a dismissal of the enforcement order, arguing the urgency of the enforcement application was contrived and amounted to an abuse of court processes, News24 reported.
He said no exceptional circumstances for the order had been established on a balance of probabilities adding that the underlying decision for the order was “inherently deficient and riddled with irregularities”.
Zuma and French arms company Thales face several charges including fraud, racketeering and money laundering linked to the multibillion-rand arms deal in 1999.