Jacob Zuma’s legal team yesterday argued that had the state pulled prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer SC from the arms deal corruption case after the former President requested it to, the trial would be over by now.

It is reported that his lawyers told the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) that their client believes he will not get a fair hearing if Downer, who leads the prosecution in the arms deal case, is allowed to remain in that role.

This is Zuma’s second attempt to have Downer removed from the case and his counsel, Advocate Dali Mpofu SC, said his client’s ‘human rights’ had been affected. 

The Mercury reports that Zuma has lost four court matters regarding his separate private prosecution against Downer for allegedly leaking his medical details to News24 journalist Karyn Maughan. Zuma claims Downer breached the National Prosecuting Authority Act by doing this.

Mpofu told Judge Nkosinathi Chili that Zuma had filed an appeal bid with the Constitutional Court to try to overturn an order related to his private prosecution matter. This comes after the SCA ruled against Zuma in the private prosecution matter and dismissed his application for leave to appeal the order.

Mpofu said Zuma filed an application to appeal the enforcement of the ruling that invalidated the private prosecution, describing it as an abuse.

‘What has since happened is that as of October 25, the application for leave to appeal in that matter was served. And I’ve just learnt now that, I think because of the time, the stamp of the Constitutional Court says the 26th,’ Mpofu said.

‘If he succeeds in his bid to force Downer’s removal with this application, he says the trial will still proceed – just with a different prosecutor,’ the lawyer said, adding that the former President was legally entitled to an impartial prosecutor.

Mpofu argued that it was irrelevant whether Downer was acquitted of the charges or not, saying the fact that Zuma has pursued him as an accused means that he should not continue to prosecute him.

Full report in The Mercury