Avatar photo

By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Zuma threatens Zondo with legal action after ConCourt dismissed his private prosecution appeal

The former president was dealt another blow after the apex court unanimously turned down his private prosecution bid against Billy Downer and Karyn Maughan.

Jacob Zuma and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s legal duel is continuing with the former president writing to Zondo, threatening him with legal action. This comes after the Constitutional Court turned down his private prosecution appeal recently.

Zuma was dealt another blow last month after the apex court unanimously dismissed his private prosecution bid against senior state prosecutor advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan.


The ConCourt order means that the former president could not pursue his private prosecution bid against the duo pending his appeal process against the initial order by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The SCA’s scathing assessment of Zuma’s “hopeless” private prosecution found the former president’s appeal as being a continuation of his Stalingrad strategy to avoid his corruption trial.

Zuma letter

In the letter, Zuma wants Zondo to clarify whether there was any role played by retired Judge Zak Yacoob and another judge who was recently roped in to help the apex court and if they played any role, he wants to know to what extent.

“In making the appointments, were you aware of the controversial political statements and general insults previously uttered by retired judge Yacoob which do not befit any person involved in the fair and impartial adjudication of disputes?

“If so, what considerations induced you to nevertheless appoint him over and above other retired justices of the Constitutional Court with no such disqualifying blemishes,” Zuma asked in the letter.

ALSO READ: Zuma’s private prosecution of Downer and Maughan postponed for six months

Zuma has threatened Zondo with legal action and laying a complaint of misconduct with the Judicial Services Commission if he does not furnish him with the information by 10am on 6 March 2024.

“Your conduct is at best similar and at worst, far more serious than that for which the National Assembly recently voted for the removal of Judge President Mandlakayise Hlophe namely alleged undue interference in the judicial decisions of duly appointed members of the judiciary by a person who is not a member of the relevant court.  At face value such conduct, if established, amounts to an impeachable offence on your part,” Zuma wrote.

Private prosecution

In November last year, Zuma’s private prosecution of Downer and Maughan was postponed to 9 April 2024.

Zuma is charging Downer and Maughan with what he’s deemed unlawful leaking of his confidential doctor’s letter.

The former president is also seeking the removal of Downer from his arms deal fraud and corruption trial.

The 81-year-old Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales are facing multiple charges, including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal procurement concluded in the late 1990s while he was vice president.

It is the state’s case that Zuma was kept on a corrupt retainer by his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, who then used his political clout to further his own business interests.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) also claimed Shaik facilitated a R500 000 a year bribe for Zuma from Thales in exchange for his “political protection” from a potentially damaging arms deal inquiry.

Zuma and Thales have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Zuma turns to SCA in Ramaphosa private prosecution battle

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits