We’re into the third day of deliberations in the Jacob Zuma stay of prosecution hearing, and the state is now arguing their case to take the former president to a criminal trial. However, Msholozi has already been forced into a concession, following remarks he made about Advocate Billy Downer of the prosecution team.
What comments has Jacob Zuma had to retract?
In what was undoubtedly the highlight of the morning session in Pietermaritzburg, JZ was given something of a dressing down by his adversaries across the dock. In his affidavit – which BusinessLive report forms a 300-page file on his defence – Zuma had made a number of claims about Downer and the NPA, including:
- Downer is blinded by his hatred, and “an obsession to convict” Jacob Zuma.
- Downer is “nostalgic” about the manner in which apartheid authorities deal with those they considered guilty or undesirable.
- Certain members of the NPA “miss the era of apartheid”.
- Zuma also suggested that Downer “has an aversion to the truth”.
Addressing the judges on the bench, Downer demanded that these “scandalous and untrue” statements were struck from the record. The court upheld the request, landing a serious blow to the defence’s case.
Billy Downer gets a mouthful from Msholozi
On Monday and Tuesday, lawyers for both uBaba and Thales attempted to paint the NPA as an incompetent branch of government. They have been arguing fiercely that neither party can secure a fair trial. Personally speaking, Jacob Zuma felt that extended to the man trying to prosecute him, blaming Downer for exhibiting “astounding duplicity”.
Famously, Downer is the lawyer that accounted for Schabir Shaik getting sent down. The co-conspirator in Zuma’s supposedly-shady Thales deal ended up facing the full might of the law in 2005, but JZ escaped those clutches. His accusations paint the advocate as someone who is hellbent on fulfilling a vendetta.
Of course, this is a deeply disparagaing image for someone in Downer’s position. To suggest he has any kind of prejudice is to tread on some very shaky legal ground. Downer has also suggested Zuma should pay costs for his stay of prosecution application, but no decision has been reached yet.