On Monday, the court heard from Downer and Maughan’s legal teams, who argued that the charges against the two are baseless, and that the private prosecution is an abuse of process, brought with ulterior motives.
Former President Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 20 March 2023. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey Makhaza
JOHANNESBURG – Wednesday will be the turn of former president Jacob Zuma to take the stand in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, as challenges brought against his private prosecution of state advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan continue.
Downer is the lead prosecutor on Zuma’s arms deal corruption case.
Zuma has accused him of ‘sanctioning’ what he describes as the ‘leaking’ of a doctor’s note that he said contained confidential medical information to Maughan during the course of the trial.
Downer and Maughan have now both launched applications to review and set aside the summonses they were served with.
On Monday, the court heard from Downer and Maughan’s legal teams, who argued that the charges against the two are baseless, and that the private prosecution is an abuse of process and was brought with ulterior motives.
They also argued that it violates Maughan’s Constitutional rights to freedom of expression as a journalist, as well as that it undermines the principle of prosecutorial independence, and is ultimately a bid from Zuma to avoid his day in court.
A significant portion of their argument is expected to focus on their stance that a civil court has no jurisdiction over the matter, and that Downer and Maughan’s complaints should be decided by the trial court tasked with hearing the private prosecution.
Zuma, in his papers before the court, also denies having had improper motives for bringing the private prosecution, but says, in any case, that his motives are irrelevant, and the allegations are a “red herring”.
Ultimately, he accuses Downer and Maughan of delaying tactics and has insisted the private prosecution must go ahead.