Mpofu argues Zuma was simply exercising his constitutional right to sue Downer

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Advocate Dali Mpofu has told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that former President Jacob Zuma was asserting his constitutional right by privately prosecuting advocate Billy Downer.

Mpofu was responding to an application by Downer to have the private prosecution set aside.

Zuma instituted the private prosecution against Downer and News24’s legal journalist Karyn Maughan last year, alleging that Downer leaked Zuma’s private medical information to Maughan.

Downer submitted earlier that the prosecution was an abuse of court process and that it was part of Zuma’s delaying strategy to prevent his arms deal trial from happening.

Maughan contended that the case against her had no merit and was intended to silence her as a journalist.

The medical information was contained in a letter from Zuma’s doctor, which was attached to affidavits handed to court in his arms deal trial.

Downer and Maughan argued that the documents were public court records when it was published in the media.


Meanwhile, the JG Zuma Foundation maintains that the medical records of the former President filed in his arms deal trial were leaked.

Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi made the comments on Wednesday at the Pietermaritzburg High Court where a full bench is hearing Zuma’s private prosecution matter.

On Monday, the court heard that it was in fact Advocate Andrew Breitenbach from the Cape bar and not Downer, who sent the documents to Maughan. Downer and Maughan both contend that the documents were part of the public court record before they were published in the media.

VIDEO | Downer, Maughan in court to stop former President Zuma’s private prosecution: Mzwanele Manyi

Earlier Advocate Mpofu claimed that his client’s medical records were leaked without the permission of the National Director of Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi.

“Did Mr. Downer or Mr. Breteinbach with the permission of the National Director or a person authorised in writing by the National Director disclose to any other person, Ms Maughan any information which came to his or her knowledge on the barometer of performing his or her duties in terms of this act or in his or her functions in terms of this Act or the content of any documents or any other items in the possession of the prosecuting authority, yes or no, if he didn’t, we apologise, if he did he must be prosecuted and imprisoned.”

Advocate Thabani Masuku has also rejected the Helen Suzman Foundation’s argument that former President Zuma was trying to avoid prosecution with his private prosecution of advocate Billy Downer.