Zuma Arms Deal Corruption Case Begins Monday, No Let-Up On Downer

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Former president Jacob Zuma is scheduled to go on trial for corruption on Monday at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

The decades-old case was expected to finally get underway after numerous delays and postponements.

Zuma, who faces several charges including fraud, corruption, racketeering, and money laundering, is jointly charged with Thales company, in the matter dating back to the 1999 arms deal.

On Sunday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said the former president had written to the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to reconsider his matter in which he complains that prosecutor Billy Downer SC was biased against him.

In mid-February, Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen dismissed Zuma’s attempt to remove prosecutor Downer from the case, saying the former president’s special plea “lacks reasonable prospects of success”.

Zuma, who was released on medical parole while serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, then took the matter on appeal to the SCA.

The former president had also accused Downer of leaking to the media confidential medical records regarding his parole.

However, at the end of last month, the SCA ruled: “The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs on the grounds that there is no reasonable prospect of success in an appeal and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard”.

On Sunday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said its patron, who turns 80 on Tuesday, will launch further court action to have Downer removed from prosecuting the graft case.

“We also wish to announce that the legal team of His Excellency president Zuma has filed his reconsideration application to the president of the SCA.”

The foundation said Zuma has informed the “court in his previous affidavits that he had instructed his legal team to institute private prosecution proceedings against Adv Downer”.

The foundation said in addition, on Monday, Zuma “through his legal team will be responding to the supplementary affidavit served by the National Prosecution Authority where they seek to introduce new evidence of the events of the last few days”.

Zuma is expected to appear in court in person on Monday.