Jacob Zuma turns more heat on Billy Downer ahead of next week’s court judgment
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Durban - A few days before the Pietermaritzburg High Court rules on whether former president Jacob Zuma's wish to have the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Advocate Billy Downer SC removed from prosecuting him, the former head of state has opened another front of attack.
Zuma who has been gunning for Downer for years, argues that leading his prosecution on behalf of the State does not bode well for fair dispensing of justice.
On Wednesday the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which he is a patron, announced that the former head of State would today, Thursday, open a criminal case against Downer at the Pietermaritzburg police station.
The case stems from an incident in early August, where shortly after being granted medical parole, 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 exclusively given a medical note detailing his medical condition to back up claims and 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.
“On 9 August 2021 and in keeping with this attitude, Mr Downer, strangely, filed an unsolicited affidavit, even prior to us filing our postponement application, in which he disclosed and annexed the confidential medical report in respect of Mr Zuma.
“While preparing our application, an inquiry was made by a journalist who appeared to have a source in the NPA on matters involving Mr Zuma, who broke the story of the medical report/letter and, to our utter surprise and shock, referred to its contents in such a way that it was abundantly clear that the journalist had read or had been advised of the contents thereof,” Zuma said under oath when he filed court papers, widening the scope of his application against Downer.
Now Zuma wants the police to investigate Downer and have him criminally charged for the alleged misconduct.
“As indicated in court on 22/09/21, H.E Prez Zuma will be laying criminal charges against Advocate Billy Downer SC for his admitted conduct which is in breach of sections 41(6) read with 41(7) of the NPA Act. The media is invited to a briefing outside SAPS in PMB on 21/10/21 at 13h00,” the foundation said in a statement on Wednesday.
The latest case adds to another allegation levelled by Zuma against him that between 2000 and 2007, Downer leaked information about Zuma’s corruption trial to certain media houses and CIA spies.
The judgement where Zuma wants Pietermaritzburg high court judge, Piet Koen, to remove Downer as the prosecutor of his corruption trial would be handed down on Tuesday next week.
Legal expert, Mpumelelo Zikalala of Zikalala Attorneys, said Zuma’s case against Downer would not be able to help him ahead of the judgement as the case has already been argued in court.
However, Zikalala warned that Zuma could be building up future ammunition that he could use against Downer when his corruption trial to prove that he is not fit to lead his prosecution.
“During the corruption trial, Zuma’s legal team could ask the SAPS to present the docket about the investigation against Downer and use the evidence that he is compromised and once acted in an unethical manner. The SAPS investigation would help Zuma by having all the information he needs to argue against Downer,” Zikalala said.
But Zikalala said it was still puzzling why Zuma did not report Downer’s alleged misconduct to his employer, the NPA and the Law Society which is tasked with oversight on all legal practitioners in the country.
The spokesperson of the NPA, Mthunzi Mhaga, said he cannot comment on the matter since no charges were laid against Downer by Wednesday.