The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says the decision by former president Jacob Zuma to privately prosecute State advocate Billy Downer is nothing more than an intimidation tactic.
The prosecution relates to allegations that Downer leaked Zuma’s confidential medical records to News24’s specialist legal journalist Karyn Maughan.
Maughan and Downer are to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on October 10.
NPA spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga says they are fully behind Downer.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal declined to prosecute Mr Downer in respect of the charges laid by Mr Zuma, on the basis that they lacked merit, on the basis that they were baseless, and they could not be sustained. We still maintain that this is an attempt to intimidate advocate Downer.”
“It is an attempt to delay further the trial, because they want him removed from the main trial in respect of which he is the lead prosecutor, because these charges can never be sustained,” explains Mhaga.
The video below is reporting on the charges:
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says it is disheartening to note a tweet made by Zuma’s daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, which appears to incite violence against Maughan.
Sanef has issued a statement strongly criticising the serving of a summons on Maughan – saying it is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate her.
The Editors’ Forum has reiterated that the information published by Maughan was of public record and not confidential as is claimed by Zuma’s lawyers.
It has described the summons issued on Maughan as a clear attack on media freedom and says it intends to fully support News24 and is considering joining the case as amicus curiae [friend of the court].
DPP declines to prosecute in the Adv. Billy Downer, Zuma matter
Protect integrity of SA’s criminal justice system
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, says that the prosecution is to protect the integrity of the country’s criminal justice system.
“The intention behind this is to keep the integrity of the criminal procedure system in the country on the straight and narrow. We don’t want the situation where government prosecutors are allowed to take information which they get hold of as a result of their line of duty, and then they go and spread it in shebeens and everywhere.”
“This is really what we’re trying to do here, to protect the system. So that there’s credibility in the criminal justice system of the country,” explains Manyi.
The video below is the full interview with Mzwanele Manyi: