Former president Jacob Zuma has accused National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) senior prosecutor Billy Downer of leaking Zuma’s medical records. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Former president Jacob Zuma has accused National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) senior prosecutor Billy Downer of leaking Zuma’s medical records. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Judgment expected in Jacob Zuma’s fight with NPA’s Billy Downer

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Oct 26, 2021

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Durban - Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen is expected to hand down judgment on Tuesday, in the legal fight where former president Jacob Zuma wants National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) senior prosecutor Billy Downer removed from his corruption trial.

The former head of state has, since August this year, made it clear that he wants Downer removed from the matter.

He has accused him of engaging in unethical conduct, while leading Zuma’s prosecution for alleged corruption, during the arms deal of the late ’90s.

He alleges that Downer has been, without the authority of the director of public prosecution, leaking information to the media and spies from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) of the US.

A few days before the matter was orally argued by parties before Judge Koen last month, Zuma upped the stakes and filed a supplementary affidavit, accusing Downer of persisting with his leaks.

He accused him of leaking Zuma’s medical records, which were sent to him in August, when Zuma, who was still jailed by then, wanted to bolster his argument that he was too frail to personally come to court.

On Thursday last week, Zuma also filed two criminal charges against Downer, at the Pietermaritzburg Police Station, claiming he deliberately leaked the confidential records to a certain journalist.

In his statement when opening the case, Zuma accused Downer of breaching section 41 (6) of the NPA, which prohibits disclosing of information without the permission of the national director.

“The purpose of bringing the information contained in this affidavit to the attention of the police is to initiate a process which must necessarily lead to the prosecution of the suspects, failing which a certificate to the contrary must be duly issued by the National Director of Public Prosecutions, who is, incidentally, the person ultimately responsible for the deployment of the suspects,” read Zuma's affidavit.

In it, he further said: “I am prepared to give further clarificatory statements, under oath, in support of the above, should that be deemed necessary. The criminal violations set out in the attached documents should serve as a useful basis of determining the scope of a criminal investigation that the SAPS may conduct in this complaint ,and the inclusion of further suspects and/or accomplices,” read the affidavit.

With most legal experts predicting that the high court will not give Zuma the nod, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said he will not be physically present in court when Koen hands down the judgment.

“Dear Media, Just so it's clear. On the October 26, 2021, Judge Koen will be handing down his judgment, following the arguments of September 21-22. So, October 26, 2021, is not a trial date, but a judgment date. Zuma is not required to attend, he will send his attorney,” his foundation said in a statement.

The NPA has previously said Zuma’s application will likely not get the nod, as most of the arguments he raised during oral arguments were the same arguments that were dismissed by the same court in May 2019, when he wanted the charges against him to be permanently quashed.

It has also defended Downer, saying it has noted with concern that Zuma has laid the two criminal charges and it still has confidence in Downer, as his record as a prosecutor speaks for himself.

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Political Bureau

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