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NPA: Downer's Zuma prosecution claims not new

Billy Downer has filed an affidavit saying the decision to withdraw charges against Jacob Zuma was wrong.

FILE: DA's Helen Zille stands outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria with the so-called Zuma spy tapes on 4 September 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says legal papers filed by the former lead prosecutor in the case against Jacob Zuma don't contradict its view that the decision to withdraw charges against the president was correct.

On Monday night, it emerged that advocate Billy Downer had filed a confirmatory affidavit in which he says he believed that the decision to withdraw charges against Zuma in 2009 was wrong, and that the prosecution should have continued.

The papers form part of the DA's application to have that decision overturned.

The NPA's Luvuyo Mfaka says Downer has only confirmed in writing what he said in 2009.

"When the decision not to pursue the prosecution was made, it was made clear that the prosecution team was of the opinion that we can proceed."

But the DA's James Selfe says these papers do help their case.

"It's obviously much more power coming in the form of sworn statement than relying on the media statement, and the fact that he still believes it to this day, merely substantiates the case."

The NPA's deputy head advocate Willie Hofmeyer had said in other documents that the NPA's decision to withdraw the charges was correct, because of the conversations captured on the Zuma spy tapes.

Selfe says this latest document shows that Downer believes the charges against Zuma should not have been withdrawn by the NPA.

"It has precisely been our contention all along that a judge rather than a prosecuting authority needs to take that decision."

But Mfaku says there's no contradiction between Downer's claims.

"The confirmation affidavit filed confirms what is already contained in the opposing affidavit that was filed by Mr Hofmeyer, there is no contradiction whatsoever."

In February, the NPA said it had missed deadlines to file legal papers opposing the DA's bid to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma because it had been difficult to meet advocate Mokotedi Mpshe, who made the final decision.

Mpshe was the acting head of the NPA when he announced the decision to withdraw the charges just before the 2009 general elections.