Corruption accused Jacob Zuma’s month-long wait on Billy Downer’s recusal bid
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Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma will have to wait for a least a month before he will know whether or not his application to force the National Prosecution Authority’s advocate, Billy Downer SC, out of his corruption trial is successful.
Zuma’s legal team on Wednesday continued where it left off on Tuesday and put up a legal battle as to why Downer should not lead the prosecution of the former head of state for alleged arms deal corruption in the late 1990s.
Zuma’s lead lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, assisted by advocate Thabani Masuku SC, continued with their battle before Judge Piet Koen in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, addressing every point raised by advocate Wim Trengove SC, who represented the prosecuting body.
He warned that Downer’s recusal would be a “prelude” for them to launch another legal challenge to have Zuma acquitted.
Quoting several case laws and sections of the Constitution and the NPA Act, Mpofu frowned at arguments by Trengove, who told the court that Zuma’s application was a permanent stay of prosecution application dressed as a section 106 application (when an accused wants a prosecutor to recuse himself).
Mpofu said that the court submission by Trengove was a distortion of their case against Downer and the NPA. He said their case was clear that they wanted a recusal and the facts spoke for themselves. He pleaded with the court to dismiss the claims.
Furthermore, he insisted that a prosecutor should be beyond suspicion to lead a prosecution and argued that Downer lacked that as he had allegedly leaked information to the media, and shared some with spies. He also said Downer had emotionally attached himself to the case to an extent that he once cried when he learnt that the case was being withdrawn in April 2009.
"Like Caesar’s wife, the prosecutor must be above any trace of suspicion, not even wrongdoing, suspicion, as the minister of the truth brings a special duty to see that the case emerges in court,“ Mpofu said while quoting from case laws where a prosecutor was kicked out of a case by a court.
Mpofu pleaded with Judge Koen to apply his mind carefully to the case application.
“How could somebody be qualified to prosecute a particular case if their conduct is in breach of the Constitution or the code of conduct or the NPA Act? It’s just a no-brainer, particularly if we emphasise if our business is about affirmation the section 35 of the accused.
“He (Zuma) should be like any other accused and be tried by a dispassionate prosecutor ... they all deserve to be tried by a prosecutor who is not overzealous,” Mpofu told the court.
After listening to all the arguments and counter-arguments, Judge Koen told the parties that he needed at least a month to prepare a judgment. After seeking guidance on the availability of parties, he said he would hand down the judgment on October 26.
The spokesperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, told journalists outside the court that Zuma was happy with the fight put up by his legal team.