Downer dismisses Zuma argument over his competency to prosecute corruption case

Former President Jacob Zuma has challenged State prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer’s right to prosecute him by a special plea application in terms of Section 106 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma stands in the dock during the recess of his corruption trial at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on 26 May 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

DURBAN - Senior State prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer, has dismissed former President Jacob Zuma’s argument that he was not competent to prosecute the case involving him and French arms manufacturer Thales.

The former head of state and Thales face charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering linked to the multi-billion rand arms deal.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, with Zuma going as far as challenging Downer’s right to prosecute him by a special plea application in terms of Section 106 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

READ
Zuma pleads not guilty to arms deal corruption charges
NPA maintains it has credible witnesses, evidence in case against Zuma, Thales

The section provides that "when an accused pleads to a charge, he may plead that the prosecutor has no title to prosecute."

But Downer was not backing down.

In court papers filed to the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday, Advocate Downer highlighted that he was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1980 and appointed a deputy director of public prosecutions in 1999.

Downer has further stressed that he was sworn in as a senior deputy director of public prosecutions in 2015 whereas two years after that, the then director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Advocate Elaine Zungu, designated him the right to carry out his duties on behalf of the republic in all courts within her area of jurisdiction.

He said that this position had been affirmed by the current director of public prosecutions, Shamila Batohi.

Downer said that therefore, Zuma’s Section 106 application must fail.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.