Zuma agrees to remove claims against NPA's Downer from affidavit

In one of the claims, Jacob Zuma argued that State Advocate Billy Downer's hatred of him does not allow the prosecutor to be objective when viewing his corruption case.

Former President Jacob Zuma at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on 21 May 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former President Jacob Zuma has agreed to strike out allegations that he made against State prosecutor Billy Downer, including that Downer longed for the days of apartheid-era prosecutions and hated him.

This was released in the Pietermaritzburg High Court where the State is on Thursday presenting its arguments on why the court must dismiss Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Zuma made his arguments earlier this week, saying that the case against him was politically motivated and that the delays in getting the case to trial have prejudiced him.

Initially, the State wanted to start its arguments today by asking the court to strike out parts of Jacob Zuma's affidavits.

Particularly the paragraphs relating to Advocate Billy Downer, the deputy director of public prosecutions, leading the State’s case against Zuma.

In the paragraphs, Zuma argued that Downer's hatred of him does not allow the prosecutor to be objective when viewing his corruption case.

He said that Downer's tone and submissions in the answering affidavit seem nostalgic of the manner in which apartheid prosecutions authorities dealt with those it considered guilty or undesirable.

The former president has, through his legal team, agreed to remove these paragraphs from his affidavit.

TRIAL DELAYS

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has conceded that it was also responsible for the delays in getting Zuma’s corruption case to trial but said the former president could not use that as an argument to have the case dismissed.

The argument around unreasonable delays to getting the corruption case against the former president to trial has been central to his application for a stay of prosecution.

Zuma has argued that because of the long delays his name was now synonymous with corruption and he’s carried this stigma for too long.

But while State Advocate Wim Trengrove initially argued that Zuma was to blame for the delays through his employment of the Stalingrad approach over the years, he also conceded the NPA was to blame: “The cause of that delay was Mr Zuma and my client. I don’t lay it [the blame] only at the door of Zuma.”

He has argued that Zuma can’t complain about the delays when he was partly responsible for them.