Johannesburg - The Jacob Zuma (JGZ) Foundation said ex-president Jacob Zuma will no longer attend court as previously announced in his bid to remove state prosecutor advocate Billy Downer.
The foundation told the media it has just learnt that the Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court, Thoba Poyo-Dlwati, has on Monday morning unexpectedly informed the parties that the application for the removal of state prosecutor Downer as prosecutor in the public prosecution of Zuma “will not proceed” on Tuesday as scheduled.
It will be recalled that the hearing date was ordered by the court for April 17, 2023, following agreement between the parties.
"No reasons were given. The parties have been invited to a virtual meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) with the Judge President. Therefore, President Zuma will no longer attend court, as previously announced. The foundation will keep the public informed of any further developments," said JGZ spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi.
The office of the Chief Justice on Monday afternoon issued a media statement confirming that the matter of Zuma versus the state, set to be heard from August 15 to 16 at the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court, Pietermaritzburg, would no longer sit as scheduled.
“Instead, Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati will conduct a virtual case management meeting with all parties involved on the dates previously scheduled for the sitting,” said the office of the Chief Justice.
In his papers, Zuma said his application for Downer’s removal was based on “three main separate but interrelated pillars, which are premised on the relevant factual complex and the applicable law”.
Downer is presently in the dock as an accused person in a private prosecution in which Zuma is the private prosecutor, and this disqualifies him from acting as a prosecutor in the arms deal matter.
The nature of the charges faced by Downer in respect of the 2008 information leak incident also sufficiently disqualifies him. (Zuma says there is prima facie evidence that Downer had discussions about his prosecution with investigative journalist Sam Sole in 2008.)
“Any single one of the above-mentioned grounds, on its own, would be enough to justify the granting of the relief sought. Cumulatively, they all provide an insurmountable hurdle against Mr Downer’s intended continuation in the role of lead prosecutor and/or prosecutor in the public prosecution,” Zuma said.
He said that Downer remaining the prosecutor in the arms deal trial would amount to a violation of his rights to a fair trial.
“I believe I can no longer have a fair trial as guaranteed in Section 35 of the Constitution if Mr Downer remains the prosecutor in the matter.
“The evidence is that his overall conduct in relation to my prosecution is inconsistent and incompatible with my right to a fair trial,” he said.