JUST IN: Judge rules Jacob Zuma’s court bid against Billy Downer should be heard in person
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Durban - Former President Jacob Zuma has scored a court victory after Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen on Wednesday morning ruled that his application against the prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer be heard in person.
This means Zuma will leave his Estcourt Correction Centre cell where he is serving his 15 months contempt of court sentence and travel to court on August 10 to join his lawyers who are arguing Downer should not lead his prosecution for corruption.
Zuma and his lawyers are arguing that Downer has acted in a legally and politically compromising manner, thus rendering himself unfit to give the former head of state a fair trial.
In opposing the in-person hearing, the NPA argued that Zuma’s presence in court could pose security risks and other challenges as his supporters would come and gather outside court.
However, Judge Koen ruled that all parties should come to court instead of having a virtual hearing which Zuma and his lawyers argued was prejudicial to him.
“The hearing of the plea in terms of s106(1)(h) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 set down from 10 August 2021, shall proceed in open court at the High court in Pietermaritzburg.
“The currently applicable disaster management (Covid-19) regulations, particularly those regarding the wearing of face masks, maintaining social distance, and the restriction of the number of attendees at indoor venues must at all times be adhered to strictly,” the judge wrote in a note sent to all parties.
However, the judge warned that his directive could be revoked or amended if an urgent need arises.
“The directive previously issued on 15 July 2021 is hereby revoked. This directive is subject to amendment at any stage should circumstances arise which make it desirable to do so.''
Should all go as planned and Zuma appears in person in court, he would be appearing in public for the second time since he was jailed in the early hours of July 8 this year. His first public appearance after he was jailed was on July 22 when he was granted a compassionate leave pass to go home to Nkandla to bury his younger brother, Michael Zuma.