Legal representatives for former President Jacob Zuma and representatives of the Department of Correctional Services have objected to subpoenas by the State to hand the former President’s medical records in at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Advocate Dali Mpofu has told the court on behalf of Zuma that the former President has, on medical advice, decided that his application for the recusal of prosecutor  Advocate Billy Downer can proceed in his absence.

However, Judge Piet Koen pointed out that Zuma’s absence raises the question of his medical condition.

“Let’s just get to the principle. The principle is that trials normally should proceed in the presence of the accused. Now Mr. Zuma is not here today. The reason for him not being here today and for me to justify and excuse him would be that he is for reasons stated that he needs to be close to his doctors in Gauteng because of his condition. Doesn’t that introduce his medical condition as a relevant issue today?”

“No my lord.”

“Where is the procedure that an accused can say I am quite satisfied that you can proceed in my absence?”

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NPA to oppose Downer’s recusal

Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it intends to oppose the application calling for the recusal of state prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer.

NPA spokesperson Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga says, “We don’t want any postponement in this matter. There is no indication on whether Mr. Zuma will be here [in court] or not. But we would like to proceed with the matter as we had indicated in the past that there is no merit to their application.”

“We will vigorously oppose the application and now that they supplemented accusing him of leaking the medical records to the media we dispute that. Mr. Downer is a prosecutor of integrity. He maintained the confidentiality of all documentation that went through to him. So in essence we will vigorously oppose the application,” adds Mhaga.

Fraser subpoenaed to appear in court in the Zuma, Thales corruption case

Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser has been subpoenaed to appear before the Pietermaritzburg High Court in the arms deal corruption case against former President Jacob Zuma and French arms company, Thales.

Fraser authorized the release of Zuma on medical parole earlier in September.

Zuma and Thales are facing charges of corruption, racketeering, and money laundering.

Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo says the court will have to provide instructions around questions into Zuma’s medical records.

“The court will determine in terms of the processes that must be followed because the matter is quite sensitive as it relates to medical records of a citizen. So, I think the court will have to give direction in terms of how that process must be handled,” adds Nxumalo.

TIMELINE | Jacob Zuma and the Arms Deal

Additional reporting by: Fanele Mhlongo