Adv. Sikhakhane and Adv. Mpofu during the Zuma case at Pietermaritzburg High court on 21 September 2021. The Pietermaritzburg High Court is hearing former president Jacob Zuma’s application to have the National Prosecuting Authority's advocate Billy Downer SC recuse himself. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency(ANA)
Adv. Sikhakhane and Adv. Mpofu during the Zuma case at Pietermaritzburg High court on 21 September 2021. The Pietermaritzburg High Court is hearing former president Jacob Zuma’s application to have the National Prosecuting Authority's advocate Billy Downer SC recuse himself. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency(ANA)

Like Caesar's wife, Billy Downer should be beyond any suspicion to prosecute Jacob Zuma, Dali Mpofu tells court

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Sep 22, 2021

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Pietermaritzburg: Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team on Wednesday continued to put up a spirited legal battle for why the NPA's top prosecutor, advocate Billy Downer SC, should not lead the prosecution of the former head of state for alleged arms deal corruption and bribes.

The case continued on Wednesday before Judge Koen at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where Zuma's lead lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, assisted by advocate Thabani Masuku SC, continued with their full-frontal battle.

Quoting several examples of case law and sections of the Constitution and the NPA's Act, Mpofu tried to crush arguments by advocate Wim Trengove SC, representing the NPA, that Zuma's application is for a permanent stay of prosecution dressed as a section 106 application (when an accused wants a prosecutor to recuse himself).

Mpofu said a court submission by Trengove was a distortion of their case against Downer and the NPA.

He insisted a prosecutor should be beyond suspicion in order to lead a prosecution, and argued Downer lacks that as he has allegedly leaked information to the media and has emotionally attached himself to the case to an extent that he once cried when it was being withdrawn in April 2009.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 case law where a prosecutor was kicked out of a case by a court.

Mpofu further pleaded with Judge Koen to look at their application as a prosecutor who has breached even the Constitution cannot be allowed to lead a prosecution.

"How could somebody be qualified to prosecute a particular case if actually 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 of 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.

Wednesday was the last day for the case as Koen had allocated it two days. Judgment was reserved and would be delivered later, after the judge has looked at all the evidence presented.

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