Mzwanele Manyi, spokesperson for the Zuma Foundation, says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) delayed former president Jacob Zuma’s case against state prosecutor Billy Downer by taking more than two months to “produce this certificate of just one sentence”.
Elaine Zungu, the director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday issued Zuma with a nolle prosequi certificate in terms of section 7 (2) of Act 51.
“A nolle prosequi certificate is issued when the prosecuting authority has declined to prosecute in a particular case to a party that has an interest to pursue private prosecution,” NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said on Tuesday.
The certificate allows Zuma to pursue a private prosecution.
Zuma previously indicated he plans to institute a private prosecution against Downer for allegedly leaking information to the media. It follows the Pietermaritzburg high court’s dismissal of Zuma’s application for an order that Downer lacked legal standing to prosecute him.
The NPA made its decision not to prosecute Downer on 5 April but has “been struggling to make it official by submitting this one sentence”, claims Manyi, adding that Zuma’s lawyers had been considering taking action to compel the NPA to issue the certificate.
Manyi claims the NPA’s “incompetence,” and “abuse of state resources and power” led to an excessive delay in Zuma’s trial in that they can only now deal with the private prosecution.
“In no time, Downer is going to be accused number one, he is going to be sitting in the exact same box President Zuma was sitting, and he is going to be responding to the prosecution that will be done by advocate Dali Mpofu,” maintains Manyi.
The former president’s corruption trial has seen numerous delays — often the result of Zuma’s Stalingrad defence.
Mhaga said the NPA would not “be deterred by such attacks”.
“As the NPA progresses with prosecutions of corruption and other serious economic crimes, particularly against the rich and the powerful, we expect that there will be attacks against NPA staff in an attempt to evade justice. We will not be deterred by such attacks”.
Mhaga said the NPA agrees with the director of public prosecutions that the charges against Downer are “baseless and cannot be sustained”.
“Mr Zuma has the right to pursue a private prosecution and due process should be followed. Adv Downer will of course defend himself in terms of the various legal remedies available to him. The NPA will support Adv Downer in defending himself against what we consider to be an abusive private prosecution,” said Mhaga.
In a statement on Wednesday the Zuma foundation said NPA director Shamila Batohi should “do the right thing” and remove Downer from the current court proceedings “so that the matter may finally get underway without avoidable delays”
Zuma’s corruption trial is set to resume on 15 August.