Zuma loses appeal bid to have Downer removed from corruption case

Judge Piet Koen said that Jacob Zuma's special plea had no reasonable prospects of success.

FILE: Former South African President Jacob Zuma removes his eyeglasses as he addresses the media at his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal on 4 July 2021. Picture: Emmanuel Croset/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Former President Jacob Zuma has lost his appeal application to have prosecutor Billy Downer removed from his corruption case.

Judge Piet Koen ruled in October 2021 that Advocate Billy Downer would be kept on in Zuma’s corruption trial after Zuma accused him of bias and sharing information about his health with the media.

The former president and French company Thales are due to go on trial for alleged corruption related to the multi-billion rand arms deal concluded by the South African government in the 1990s.

Judge Koen on Wednesday said that Zuma's special plea had no reasonable prospects of success.

"Resorting to appeals prior to the finalisation of the trial results in delay, fragmentation of the process and the determination of issues based on an inadequate record. There are no compelling considerations to the contrary requiring that an appeal be permitted now," Judge Koen said.

Koen said that Zuma could still challenge the court outcome at a later stage.

"That does not mean that Mr Zuma could not ultimately appeal the dismissal of the special plea but only that he cannot do so now. The trial must first be completed," Koen said.