Former South African president, Jacob Zuma, has appealed to the Pietermaritzburg High Court to hold an evidentiary hearing before his Arms Deal trial commences so that he can cross-examine the senior prosecutor, Billy Downer, and have him removed.
“I must therefore be acquitted because there is no evidence that the State may lawfully present in a court for me to answer as a consequence of the State losing title to prosecute,” Zuma says.
As News24 reports, Zuma stands accused of receiving over R4 million in bribes and benefits from his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik.
Shaik was convicted of arranging a R500 000 per year bribe for Zuma from a French arms firm, in exchange for his “protection” from any potential investigation into the Arms Deal.
According to the Sunday Times, Zuma says that if Downer is allowed to conduct the fraud and corruption trial against him, “it will erode the constitutional and moral authority” of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to perform its duties according to the law.
The Daily Maverick quotes Zuma in his 84-page replying affidavit to Downer and the NPA as saying:
“I am advised that in that evidentiary hearing, I am entitled to cross-examine Mr Downer or any NPA official on the criminal conduct or prosecutorial violations on which I contend Downer lacks the necessary title to prosecute. I am advised… I would be entitled to place evidence on which I contend that my fair trial rights and related constitutional rights have been violated by acts of prosecutorial misconduct.”
Zuma said that he would be sure to include that anyone who is assigned to his prosecution under the leadership of Downer, should be “equally disqualified from conducting the prosecution” and that “no other person who is mandated by the NPA and the NPA itself is qualified to conduct the prosecution”, the Daily Maverick adds.
Zuma also insists that Downer is determined to pursue him for racketeering and corruption linked to South Africa’s Arms Deal, News24 writes.