The Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday finally began hearing Jacob Zuma’s decades old corruption trial with the focus shifting from the 79-year-old former president’s health to his request for prosecutor Billy Downer to be recused from the case and an acquittal ordered.
After more than an hour of arguing whether Zuma’s medical records should be handed to the court or not, Judge Piet Koen decided to shelve the matter for another time and move the on-off trial on.
The court heard that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had subpoenaed the national commissioner of correction services Arthur Fraser and other officials with a view of having them hand over Zuma’a medical records.
However, Judge Koen decided to park that matter and instead continue with the special plea in which Zuma asks the court to recuse prosecutor Billy Downer.
Advocate Dali Mpofu arguing for the recusal of Downer as having no title to prosecute, said his client insists that the case should go ahead.
Mpofu revealed that Zuma, who has been hopitalised for several weeks with an undisclosed ailment, has been placed in “secondary medical care” and has to be near his doctors in Gauteng.
Judge Koen said Zuma’s absence could not be used at a later stage as a defect of the trial considering that the former president had waivered his right to attend.
Given that the matter of handing in Zuma’s medical records was earlier put on hold, all witnesses subpoenaed in that regard by the NPA – including Fraser – were excused and allowed to leave the court.
Mpofu said there were 12 reasons why Downer has no title to prosecute Zuma 12 items. He said there was conduct that was admitted and there was conduct that is disputed.
The matter continues …