The National Prosecuting Authority says it is concerned with the timing of charges laid against senior State prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer, by former President Jacob Zuma.
South African former President Jacob Zuma speaks to supporters after appearing at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 17 May 2021. Reuters/Rogan Ward/File Photo
Zuma laid charges against Downer on Thursday afternoon in Pietermaritzburg.
The charges relate to Downer’s alleged breach of sections of the NPA Act, which prohibits the disclosure of information without the approval of the National Director of Prosecutions.
Downer stands accused of leaking the former President’s medical records to the media during his arms deal corruption trial involving French arms manufacturer Thales.
The prosecutorial authority expressed concern at the fact that the charges come less than a week before judgment is delivered in the former President’s court application to have Downer removed as a prosecutor in the case.
“While the law must be followed to its full course, the NPA is concerned about the context within which these charges have been laid and the timing in light of the pending judgement of the High Court.
“We also note that these charges are laid as this matter is subject to judicial determination by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg and judgment is expected to be delivered on October 26,” the prosecutorial body said.
According to the NPA, Downer remains a respected litigator.
“Advocate Downer is a highly respected prosecutor, who has carried himself with integrity throughout his career in the NPA. His reputation speaks for itself.
“All NPA prosecutors are required to act without fear and favour, and should feel confident to deliver on their mandates without fear of intimidation. However, we will allow the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal to deal with the matters as and when she receives the case docket from the police.
“The NPA is committed to due process and the rule of law, and will assess the merits of the charges in an objective manner.”