Judgment reserved in Zuma’s private prosecution of Downer, Maughan

The High Court in Pietermaritzburg will decide the fate of former South Africa president Jacob Zuma’s secret trial against state attorney Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan.

Zuma accused Downer of facilitating the release of confidential medical information to Maughan in violation of the NPA Act.

They both applied to have the summons served, considered and set aside.

They argue that Zuma is violating the rule of law and has brought the private prosecution with ulterior motives.

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The applications were heard over two days this week and the case closed on Wednesday afternoon, with judgement reserved.

There was a heated debate in court on Wednesday afternoon.

Dali Mpofu and his lawyer, Thabani Masuku, for Zuma, argued for almost five hours.

There was then only 15 minutes of court time left, for Advocate Steven Budlender, for Maughan, and Advocate Geoff Budlender, who’s representing Downer, to make their final submissions.

This led to Steven Budlender raising questions as to how they would do so, following which Mpofu stood up to address the court once more, prompting Budlender to label his conduct unprofessional.

Mpofu took exception to this and to comments Budlender had made earlier in the day to the effect that he was filibustering.

Ultimately, Maughan and Downer’s counsel were given an hour to complete their submissions, in which they described Zuma’s counsel’s representations as a “spectacle” and maintained that the private prosecutions stood to be reviewed and set aside.

The case has now wrapped up, with judgment reserved.


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