‘Vendetta’ against Downer: Nicholson may hear case

2008-09-22 00:00

While Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh’s lawyers are adamant that he has withdrawn his application to declare former Jacob Zuma prosecutor Billy Downer SC unfit to prosecute, the state submits his “purported withdrawal” is ineffective and is intent on setting the matter down for argument before Judge Chris Nicholson.

The state has filed affidavits in the high court by Downer, the former head of the Investigative Directorate Organised Crime (IDOC) in KwaZulu-Natal, Chris MacAdam, as well as an attorney acting for the state, Petrus Coetzee, in response to allegations made by Singh in his application earlier this month to be heard as an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court”, in Zuma’s case.

Downer said in his affidavit he “emphatically” denies Singh’s allegations that he had intentionally misled the regional court in proceedings against him (Singh), or had prosecuted him knowing there was no evidence to sustain the charges against him.

Downer also said he had been “severely embarrassed” in his defence against Singh’s allegations which were widely published in the media without his having an opportunity to refute them.

MacAdam, too, has denied that the charges brought against Singh were “spurious”, that he (MacAdam) perjured himself, or that there was any lack of integrity or honesty on Downer’s part in the prosecution.

Singh said in his application he wished to lead evidence based on “personal experience” to show that Zuma would not get a fair trial if Downer remained on the prosecution team. He claimed his prosecution was continued for “malicious reasons” and “on the basis of false allegations and false evidence”.

Coetzee submitted that Singh had abused the process of the court for an “ulterior and malicious purpose”, being to “insult and defame” Downer and MacAdam in his papers and in the media. Then through his notice of withdrawal he had sought to deny them and the state the opportunity to “answer his allegations and to expose their falsity and the malice behind them”, alleged Coetzee.

He alleged there was an indication that Singh deliberately delayed the issueing of the application after disseminating the contents to the media, and chose the date for hearing (the same date as Nicholson’s judgment on Zuma) to “maximise the bad publicity” for Downer and MacAdam.

In his affidavit, Coetzee stated that Singh had been engaged in a “long-standing vendetta” against Downer and MacAdam, had made similar allegations against them before but alleged they were “not supported by the evidence”.

The dispute dates back to when Singh was seconded to the Investigative Directorate Organised Crime at the height of violence in the Richmond area in 1999.

He was expelled from the unit at the end of the year and subsequently arrested and charged with defeating the ends of justice and other charges.

He later won a permanent stay of prosecution.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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