NPA welcomes ruling on Zuma’s bid to have Downer removed from trial

On Tuesday, Judge Piet Koen of the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed Jacob Zuma's application, saying it was not based on any facts.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

DURBAN - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has welcomed the judgment on former President Jacob Zuma's special plea to have State prosecutor Billy Downer removed from his corruption trial.

On Tuesday, Judge Piet Koen of the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed Zuma's application, saying it was not based on any facts.

Zuma accused Downer of being biased and that he would not have a fair trial if he continued to represent the State in his matter.

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The NPA’s Mthunzi Mhaga said: “We welcome the judgment because we had vigorously opposed it on the basis that it has no merit. On the issues that they had raised, relating to political interference and bias on the part of the prosecution, they were very ventilated and properly pronounced upon by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the full court sitting here in the permanent stay of prosecution proceedings. And now, this is the third judgment that affirms our position.”

The Jacob Zuma Foundation on Tuesday said it was not surprised that the Pietermaritzburg High Court had ruled against the former president in his bid to have Downer removed.

The foundation’s spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said they would advise Zuma to appeal the latest court ruling.

“The judgment somehow manages to manoeuvre and leave the fact out and upholds a judgment, which in our view is irrational. The lawyers are going to study the judgment in full and there will be a response in due course.”

Zuma sat in the dock carefully listening to the proceedings as Judge Koen ruled that Downer would remain on the arms deal corruption trial.

“I concludingly guard to the 14 specific grants raised, commenting on each individually that many were based on speculation or suspicion or are based on inadmissible hearsay evidence.”

The corruption trial has been set down for 11 April next year.

Zuma is out on medical parole after being found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months in jail.

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