Downer breaks ranks with NPA

2015-06-10 06:01

THE senior prosecutor in the corruption case against President Jacob Zuma has broken ranks with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and maintains that the charges against Zuma should never have been dropped.

In a startling development, Adv. Billy Downer has submitted a confirmatory affidavit in the DA’s “spy tapes” case in which he contradicts some of the statements made by Adv. Willie Hofmeyr, who filed the main affidavit on behalf of the NPA in March.

He defends the NPA’s decision to drop the case against Zuma, arguing that the decision was taken with regard to abuse of prosecutorial process and not just the merits of the charges against Zuma. But in his affidavit, Downer reveals that the content of the so-called spy tapes did not justify a decision to drop the prosecution.

“In our view, the intercepted con­versations did not affect the decision to charge Zuma. My view remains unchanged.”

The spy tapes are intercepted telephone conversations between Buleleni Ngcuka, a former NPA head, and Leonard McCarthy, the head of the Scorpions, about the timing of the corruption case against Zuma.

It is clear from the tapes that both Ngcuka and McCarthy were supporters of former President Thabo Mbeki.

Mokotedi Mpshe, the acting NPA head at the time, used them to justify his decision to drop the charges against Zuma, saying the timing of the prosecution had been manipulated to favour Mbeki in the ANC leadership race ahead of the party’s Polokwane national conference.

In Hofmeyr’s affidavit, he argues on behalf of the NPA that McCarthy had abused his position as a prosecutor for ulterior motives and that this amounted to an abuse of process. He said the DA attempted to play down McCarthy’s role in the Zuma prosecution, but in reality McCarthy had broad powers over both the investigation and prosecution of Zuma.

He says only McCarthy and not the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) had the power to institute a prosecution.

Significantly, Downer does not agree with Hofmeyr on this point.

“Previous NDPP’s had made decisions to institute prosecutions, including a decision to prosecute Zuma,” argues Downer.

Downer’s statement in this regard could boost the DA’s argument that McCarthy was never in a position to materially influence the prosecution of Zuma


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