Judge Emmanuel Chili will preside over the corruption trial of former President Jacob Zuma when it resumes in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on April 17th.
Judge Piet Koen recused himself from the trial on Monday morning, highlighting some of the reasons that led to his decision to recuse himself. He said it was influenced by the strong views he made when he dismissed various prior applications that were made by Zuma in this matter.
Zuma argued in his submissions that it would be perceived that Koen thought Downer was not guilty of the crimes he was likely to be charged with.
Zuma said this would make it difficult for him to have a fair trial.
Previously, Koen dismissed Zuma’s special plea for Downer’s recusal in which the former President accused Downer of being biased, saying he would not get a fair trial if Downer continued prosecuting the case. Koen says his decision is to preserve the integrity of the court process beyond criticism.
“If that was to be my conclusion to resolve that Mr Downer is not removed, Mr Zuma will be reasonably justified to feel aggrieved that a decision was made favouring the arguments of Mr. Downer dictated or at least very strongly influenced by my previous findings in order to be consistent with my previous findings and the views I expressed I have come to the conclusion and it was not an easy decision that I have to recuse myself from the trial it is what a sound administration of justice, the requirements of the constitution and my conscience dictate the integrity of the judiciary process must be protected against any reasonable taint of suspicion.”
Meanwhile, the J.G. Zuma Foundation has welcomed Judge Koen’s decision to recuse himself.
Foundation spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi says, “Congratulate Judge Koen for taking such a sober decision and we must underscore the fact that this was a voluntary decision, it is not because President Zuma asked for it.
“The judge wanted to make sure that the process is being reproached, the judge wanted to ensure that justice is seen to be done the judge wanted to make sure that the apprehension of bias is removed and so that President Zuma indeed gets a fair trial we hope that the NPA is going to take a leap out of Judge Koen’s book and see that in order for justice to be seen to be done this is a kind of thing that we have been asking that should happen with Billy Downer,” Manyi adds.
VIDEO | Judge Piet Koen recuses himself from Zuma’s corruption trial: Mzwanele Manyi
Zuma’s private prosecution matter against Downer and News24 legal reporter Karyn Maughan will be heard in the same court on Thursday.