jacob zuma trial

Zuma trial: Msholozi’s chess move against Downer could spell acquittal

Andile Sicetsha - 26.05.2021

Jacob Zuma could have it his way with the courts yet again if Adv Billy Downer is recused.

Former president Jacob Zuma is back at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, on Wednesday, to oversee the outcome of his special plea to have prosecutor Billy Downer removed from the trial.

Zuma trial: Msholozi challenges Downer’s fitness to lead evidence

The delayed start of the Arms Deal trial has been hit with yet another delay, brought on by Zuma. This, of course, is not the first time we’ve seen such a defensive move from the former president.

His pending arrest for defying the Constitutional Court’s judgment on his appearance before the State Capture Inquiry is one example. In that case, Zuma has maintained that for as long as DCJ Raymond Zondo still presides over the inquiry, he will not see the light of day on the hot seat.

In the Arms Deal saga, Zuma caused further delays into proceedings when he submitted a special plea to have Advocate Downer removed from the trial.

The meat of this submission will be heard in court when Zuma’s representative Advocate Thabani Masuku tables its motivations for wanting Downer recused, on Wednesday.

However, from murmurs that have been heard since last week, it appears that Zuma’s evidence will seek to cast the state prosecutor as a corrupt public servant who may have dabbled in unscrupulous behaviours since his involvement in the Arms Deal case 16 years ago.

Will Zuma be acquitted from Arms Deal trial?

It’s a no-brainer that this latest spanner thrown by Zuma is an attempt to skirt all prosecution from the trial. In a submission he made in his special plea, the former president revealed that if the court finds Downer to be unfit to lead evidence, he ought to be acquitted once and for all.

β€œIn the event that my plea to have Mr Downer removed in terms of the criminal procedure Act, 51 of 1997, is successful, I am entitled to be acquitted in terms of section 106 (4) of the CPA on the basis that no fair trial may be conducted under the circumstances set out in the plea explanation,” he wrote.

The matter will form part of Wednesday’s court proceedings and the outcome will be updated once matters reach finality inside the Pietermaritzburg High Court.