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Zuma widens scope of reasons why he wants Billy Downer out, says he leaked medical records, invaded his privacy

Billy Downer state advocate-Schabir Shaik appeal Supreme Court of Apppeal, Bloemfontein. 26/09/06. Picture ALON SKUY 002

Billy Downer state advocate-Schabir Shaik appeal Supreme Court of Apppeal, Bloemfontein. 26/09/06. Picture ALON SKUY 002

Published Sep 9, 2021


Johannesburg: Former president Jacob Zuma has widened the scope of his legal battle to force the National Prosecuting Authority’s lead prosecutor advocate Billy Downer SC, out of his corruption trial, by adding two more instances of alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

On Thursday, Zuma, through one of his lawyers, BM Thusini of Vryheid, filed a supplementary affidavit, asking Judge Piet Koen, of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, to add the instances of Downer acting in an unethical manner.

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This is in addition to a pending application in which Zuma is asking Koen to rule that Downer acted in a compromised manner, by allegedly leaking sensitive information about his corruption trial to some members of the media and sharing the same information with CIA spies.

The matter was supposed to be argued from last month but it has been stalled and repeatedly postponed because Zuma is not well and is receiving medical treatment under the military health services.

Outlining his latest gripe with Downer, Zuma alleged that the top prosecutor was exclusively given a medical note detailing his medical condition to back up claims that he was not well and can't make it in court.

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He said that as soon as the note was sent to Downer, they received a questionnaire from a 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.

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Billy Downer state advocate-Schabir Shaik appeal Supreme Court of Apppeal, Bloemfontein. 26/09/06. Picture ALON SKUY 002

Zuma said Downer committed the alleged offence despite serious pleas to the NPA's legal representatives to treat the medical report with the strictest confidentiality.

“The medical report/letter is incidentally similar to the one which was rejected by Judge Pillay, also due to Mr Downer's active and unreasonable opposition to the Court accepting the medical report/letter as accurately reflecting a doctor's view of the medical situation. The court may again take judicial notice of this notorious past episode,” reads part of Zuma’s supplementary affidavit to the high court.

Zuma argues that Downer’s alleged conduct has subjected him to emotional trauma and it is a continuation of long patterns of unethical conduct aimed at presenting him as someone applying “Stalingrad tactics" to avoid having his day in court.

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In another misconduct case cited by Zuma against Downer in the affidavit, he said he misrepresented last month's order by Koen just to send private doctors to assess him.

He said the conduct was meant to further humiliate him and was done without his lawyer's knowledge.

“Sending… Professor Sarkin to conduct a physical examination without any basis, which would possibly have included taking his blood samples and other vital statistics, was the most irresponsible violation.”

According to Zuma’s affidavit, the alleged misconducts were reported to President Cyril Ramaphosa who then asked Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to initiate a probe.

Lamola’s spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri, referred all questions regarding the matter to the NPA.

The NPA spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga, had not responded to the matter when this report was compiled.

Political Bureau

Related Topics:

Jacob Zuma