Zuma’s prosecution of Karyn Maughan, Billy Downer, SC, postponed to next year

Former president Jacob Zuma. File Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Former president Jacob Zuma. File Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Published Oct 10, 2022


Pretoria – The landmark case where former president Jacob Zuma is privately prosecuting criminally accused veteran journalist Karyn Maughan and State prosecutor advocate Billy Downer, SC, has been postponed to next year.

After a break, the presiding judge returned and postponed the case to February 2, 2023.

Zuma, seemingly in high spirits, was in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, in KwaZulu-Natal sitting next to his counsel, advocate Dali Mpofu, SC. He has offered R500 000 to sustain the private prosecution.

In December, the court will hear applications brought by the accused, seeking to strike down the prosecution.

Last year, the former president opened a criminal case against Downer, alleging that the State’s lead prosecutor in Zuma’s long-running corruption trial, had unlawfully leaked his medical records including a doctor’s note to the journalist.

Zuma insists that the actions of Downer and Maughan were in contravention of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, but the NPA declined to prosecute.

Over the weekend, spokesperson for the JGZ Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, confirmed that Zuma, who has been declared a “free man” after his parole on the contempt conviction expired last week, would physically attend the court proceedings.

“Zuma, a free man, will be in the Pietermaritzburg High Court tomorrow morning (Monday) for the private prosecution of accused number 1, Downer, and accused number 2, Maughan, who both (allegedly) violated section 41(6) of the NPA Act,” Manyi wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson said the private prosecution initiated by Jacob Zuma against their publication’s specialist reporter, and the seneior prosecutor was a bid to silence the journalist.

“We believe this case is brought for one reason only: that is to embarrass Karyn Maughan; to silence her; and harass journalists to stop reporting on Mr Zuma’s case. That is why we are bringing this urgent application this morning in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, asking the court to actually do away with this private prosecution in its entirety,” Basson spoke to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

“First, we believe it is fundamentally flawed. There is no nolle prosequi certificate against Karyn Maughan. It doesn’t exist, so there can’t be private prosecution. Second, we believe that this case is purely brought for reasons of abuse to try to undermine media freedom; and to try to silence Karyn Maughan.

She has been reporting on the Zuma case for nearly for 20 years, and that is obviously irking Mr Zuma,” Basson said.