Senior State advocate Billy Downer reportedly wants Jacob Zuma to put up an additional R1 million as security for legal costs should the former president’s private prosecution against him fail.
Zuma this month launched private prosecution proceedings in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg against Downer and News24 journalist Karyn Maughan, for allegedly contravening sections of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act.
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The matter is expected to be heard on 10 October 2022.
The former president, who received a private prosecution certificate from the NPA in June, claims Downer leaked his confidential medical records to Maughan, which were later published by the news website.
News24 maintains that Maughan didn’t break any laws as the information was part of court documents.
ALSO READ: Zuma lodges private prosecution proceedings against Downer and journalist
The alleged leak related to a letter written by Brigadier Mcebisi Mdutywa last year when Zuma was imprisoned at Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal for being in contempt of court, after he refused to appear before the state capture commission.
In his letter to prison authorities, Mdutywa said Zuma had suffered a “traumatic injury” in November 2020 and needed “extensive emergency treatment” with six months to recover.
Zuma was later released on medical parole by former correctional services boss Arthur Fraser in September last year, after he only served two months of his 15-month jail sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court.
News24 on Wednesday reported that Downer, in court papers, wanted Zuma to put up an additional R1 million to the R90 000 he had already deposited to the high court as security.
The prosecutor apparently argues that the amount is necessary to “provide security that is sufficient to meet the probable costs which may be incurred in respect of my defence in the private prosecution” if the prosecution fails.
Downer reportedly stated that he and the NPA had engaged the services of senior counsel and two junior counsels for his defence.
The senior counsel’s charges in the case are said to amount to R54 000 per day and R5 400 per hour. The combined charges of both junior counsels are R45 000 per day and R4 500 per hour.
Downer added that the security should either be paid in cash or be provided using a bank guarantee.
Arms deal corruption trial
Downer is the state’s lead prosecutor in Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales’ arms deal corruption trial.
The trial is expected to resume on 17 October 2022 and Zuma wants Downer to be removed from the matter due to his private prosecution bid.
NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said they were fully behind the senior prosecutor and believe that the charges against him are “baseless and without merit”.
“Mr Downer will continue to lead the prosecution team in the Thales-Zuma trial as we believe he has prosecutorial integrity and professionalism which speaks for itself.
“We are aware that there will be these mounted unjustified attacks and intimidation on our prosecutors. We’ll continue to support them as we believe it is an imperative that we recognise,” Mhaga said.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe
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