The Pietermaritzburg High Court is set to deliberate on former president Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a recent ruling that invalidated his private prosecution of state prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan.
Zuma, who has been embroiled in a protracted legal battle, is seeking recourse after his private prosecution case suffered a major setback earlier this year. His legal team contends that the application should have been considered by the judge overseeing the private prosecution.
This legal saga dates back to September 2022 when Zuma served summonses on Downer and Maughan, accusing them of violating the National Prosecuting Authority Act. The charges stemmed from their alleged involvement in the Arms Deal Trial and the purported illegal release of a doctor’s letter.
In July, a full bench, led by Judge Gregory Kruger, delivered a verdict that deemed the private prosecution an abuse of the court process. Zuma’s charges against Downer, who is the lead prosecutor in his corruption trial, and Maughan were at the center of the contentious legal battle.
Downer and Maughan subsequently launched challenges against the summonses. Their cases were argued in March, and the judgment was finally handed down in their favour.
In its ruling, the court reinforced the necessity of a nolle prosequi certificate for initiating a private prosecution, a requirement that was not met in Maughan’s case. Moreover, it affirmed previous findings that the doctor’s note in question became a public document once it was filed.
The court’s ultimate conclusion pointed to Zuma’s underlying motivations for pursuing the private prosecution, highlighting his “continued campaign to discredit” Downer and his “personal animosity” towards Maughan.
This latest development marks a critical juncture in Zuma’s legal battles and underscores the ongoing complexities of the legal landscape surrounding the former South African president.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court’s forthcoming decision on his appeal will undoubtedly be closely watched by legal experts and the public alike.
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