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Prosecutor sues Zuma over 'odious posturing'

Publish date: 15 April 2019
Issue Number: 819
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

The lead prosecutor in Jacob Zuma’s corruption case is suing the former President for saying he was driven by his own hatred of Zuma and blinded by an obsession to see him behind bars, says a Business Day report. Advocate Billy Downer has asked the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) to strike out more than a dozen ‘scandalous and vexatious’ and ‘untrue and unwarranted’ statements Zuma made in his application for a permanent stay of prosecution. The statements were made in Zuma’s replying affidavit after the NPA responded to his application for a stay of prosecution. ‘First, without any substantiation, Zuma alleges that I hate him … I am blinded by an obsession with his conviction … I seem nostalgic about the manner in which apartheid prosecutions authorities deal with those they considered guilty or undesirable … and persons within the NPA may have apartheid withdrawal symptoms,’ Downer states. He says Zuma’s claims prejudice the state, are completely untrue and defamatory, and should be removed from the court papers. The ‘state is prejudiced by (these) parts of Zuma’s replying affidavit … because they amount to reckless and odious posturing, apparently aimed at condemning the public’s perception of the integrity of the NPA and particularly the person responsible for conducting the prosecution in court ( that is me)’. Downer also wants the court to order that Zuma, whose state funding for his legal costs has already been cut, should pay the punitive legal costs of this application.

In Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution – his last bid to halt his pending trial for racketeering, corruption, fraud and tax evasion – he also accuses Downer of ‘astounding duplicity’ and having ‘an aversion to the truth’. Downer was the prosecutor who secured a corruption and fraud conviction against Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, notes the Business Day report. He was convicted of facilitating a R500 000 a year bribe for Zuma from French arms company Thales in exchange for the former President’s ‘political protection’ from any potential investigation into the multi-billion-rand arms deal. Downer’s application will be dealt with as part of the permanent stay application when the matter resumes in May.

Full Business Day report (subscription needed)