Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Jacob Zuma Foundation concerned at the slow pace of SAPS probe into Billy Downer over leaking of information

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Dec 30, 2021

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Durban – The Jacob Zuma Foundation, whose patron is former president Jacob Zuma, has come out guns blazing, saying it is concerned with the slow pace of the SAPS in investigating the criminal charges the former head of State has laid against NPA’s advocate Billy Downer SC.

In October this year, Zuma went to the Pietermaritzburg police station to lay criminal charges against Downer SC (Senior Counsel), accusing him of leaking confidential and crucial information about his arms deal corruption trial and the state of his health.

In his affidavit to the police, Zuma alleged that Downer, the senior NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) who first successfully prosecuted Schabir Shaik (Zuma’s former financial advisor who is accused of bribing him together with Thales, a French arms firm), started the patterns of the leaks as early as 2001.

Advocate Billy Downer SC. Photo: Desiree Erasmus / ANA

That was when it emerged that the then Scorpions was investigating Zuma for alleged corruption in the multi-billion arms deal of the late 90s.

In the incident that broke the camel’s back in early August this year, while he was in jail, Zuma sent a medical note to Downer to prove that he was unable to be physically present in court because he was still ill and still receiving medical treatment from the military health services.

He alleged that the top prosecutor was given a medical note exclusively, detailing his (Zuma’s) medical condition to back up claims. As soon as the note was sent to Downer, his legal team received a questionnaire from a certain journalist, asking about the contents of the same letter.

He said that was evidence that Downer had leaked it.

Furthermore, Zuma’s gripe with the alleged leaking of the medical records and his other claims of impropriety against Downer, whom he wants to be removed as the prosecutor of his arms deal corruption case, is being used to argue that Downer has a political agenda against him.

Now his foundation says it is concerned with the pace of the investigation. The foundation’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, said this, even though the investigating officer assigned to the case has been in constant contact with Zuma’s legal team.

“The matter is being handled by an investigation officer. He has been in constant touch with the attorney of (former) president Zuma. Apparently, a multidisciplinary task team under the guidance of NDPP (National Director of Public Prosecution Shamila Batohi) has been appointed to ensure that the matter is properly investigated so that a determination can be made whether to prosecute or not.

"The Foundation is very concerned with the snail’s pace because all the pertinent information implicating Downer is well documented. We hope that the comments by the NDPP Office on the day of filing this case where they already declared Downer not guilty will not hamper the investigation,” Manyi said when asked by IOL about the matter yesterday.

The NPA’s comment about the matter Manyi is referring to was when the NPA said it was concerned about the timing of the charges, adding that Downer was a prosecutor of integrity.

The spokesperson of the NPA, Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, did not respond when asked whether or not the prosecuting body still insist that nothing is incriminating against Downer.

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