NPA appoints 4 big guns to fight Jacob Zuma’s attempt to force out Billy Downer
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Pietermaritzburg - Hours after announcing on Wednesday that it intended to fight legal attempts by former president Jacob Zuma to force advocate Billy Downer SC out as the prosecutor of his corruption, fraud and money laundering trial, the NPA has hired four senior counsel to stage a legal fightback.
The team of four will be led by Advocate Wim Trengove SC, a legal eagle who previously defeated attempts by Thales to have its racketeering charges against it set aside.
Thales is a co-accused in the corruption trial, as the NPA alleges that they knowingly engaged in a criminal enterprise with Schabir Shaik and his company, Nkobi Holdings, to bribe Zuma with cash and gifts worth over R4.7 million between 1995 and 2005.
In return, Zuma, using his position as the ANC's national chairperson, allegedly helped Thales to win lucrative tenders during the country’s arms acquisition programme during 1998 and 1999.
NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema issued a statement confirming the appointment of the four.
"The State has appointed four advocates to deal with the special plea tendered by accused 1, Mr JG Zuma. Thus, they have been appointed and effectively given a delegation in terms of the NPA Act to be prosecutors in this matter. They are: 1. Adv Wim Trengove SC 2. Adv Breitenbach SC 3. Adv Hephzibah Rajah 4. Adv Ncumisa Mayosi," Ngwema said in the statement.
Meanwhile, inside the Pietermaritzburg High Court, while Advocate Dali Mpofu and Advocate Thabani Masuku SC took turns in reading Zuma’s affidavit on why Downer should not lead his prosecution, Downer was seen shaking his head in disapproval of the allegations made against him, and tried to jump in, but was shot down by Judge Piet Koen.
Among the allegations was that Downer is politically compromised as he supported a court action by the DA; he illegally leaked information to journalist Sam Sole; and that he interacted with Leonard McCarthy of the then Scorpions, while he knew the latter was in contact with spies from the CIA.
The NPA has been given time to file its answering affidavits, and its side will be presented on July 19, when the hearing is formally heard - with all sides having presented their arguments.