The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), has expressed outrage that News24 legal journalist, Karyn Maughan, has also been cited as a respondent in the latest court papers filed by former president Jacob Zuma’s legal representatives.
SANEF says Maughan, as a journalist, previously wrote a story following a letter from Brigadier-General Mcebisi Mdutywa informing prison and prosecuting authorities about Zuma’s health status.
Zuma’s legal team has since last year claimed that Downer leaked this letter to Maughan.
SANEF Executive Director, Reggie Moalusi says, “We would like to remind them that Karen Maughan is a journalist and the work that she was doing, she was doing so after she accessed documents that were public records. We find it ludicrous and we find it as a threat and intimidation towards media freedom. We are taking legal advice on this and we support news24 in whatever legal action that they desire to take.”
SANEF supports News24 as it prepares to defend legal action taken against their journalist pic.twitter.com/IR24Uus1PN
— SANEF (@SAEditorsForum) June 9, 2022
Legal expert, Dr. Llewelyn Curlewis says the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) would not have taken a decision not to prosecute Downer if there was evidence showing misconduct on his part.
Curlewis says the route Zuma is pursuing to privately prosecute Downer is costly and that chances of success in court are slim.
He says, “Obviously, they must put down security for the prosecution and the purpose for that is to ensure that if they do not successfully prosecute, that those funds can then be used to pay the defence legal costs because of the fact that from the onset the matter was not supposed to be prosecuted. I must say I am not convinced that they will have success ultimately if they are very inclined to prosecute. So let be they put down security, let them bring Billy Downer before the court of law.”
Curlewis says after private prosecution has been instated against Downer about the medical records, Zuma’s legal team could argue in the corruption trial that Downer has a conflict of interest.
He, however, added that it would be up to the court in the corruption case to make a determination.
VIDEO: DPP declines to prosecute in the Adv. Billy Downer, Zuma matter: