Zuma Bid To Remove Prosecutor Downer Fails

Former president Jacob Zuma’s special plea to have senior prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer, removed from his corruption trial was on Tuesday morning dismissed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Judge Piet Koen said the reasons advanced to have Downer declared unfit to prosecute the former president were based “on speculation or suspicion or are based on inadmissible hearsay evidence and not on fact”.

Judge Koen added: “Even if in limited instances they might at best qualify as possible irregularities these irregularities were not such as to require Mr. Downer’s removal.”

Zuma, who was released on medical parole after serving about two months of his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court, attended the proceedings.

Last week, Zuma filed a criminal complaint at the Pietermaritzburg Police Station against Downer for allegedly leaking his confidential medical records to the media and others.

However, Judge Koen said all that was left was to set a trial date for the corruption case against Zuma.

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft, and racketeering related to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, and patrol boats.

The former president is jointly charged with Thales, the French company.

Allegations are that Thales paid bribes of half a million rand at a time to Zuma, to ensure their part in any dodgy deals would be swept under the carpet.

Judge Koen adjourned the matter to 11 April 2022 for trial.