Maya dismisses Zuma 'special plea' reconsideration, denies claims of deliberate delays

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  • Jacob Zuma's corruption trial had been postponed to a holding date of 1 August, to allow for SCA President Mandisa Maya and possibly the ConCourt to decide on his ongoing legal efforts to force the removal of prosecutor Billy Downer.
  • The Office of the Chief Justice has now confirmed that Maya has dismissed Zuma's application for a reconsideration of the SCA's dismissal of his so-called "special plea".
  • In a statement, the OCJ also denied any suggestion that delays in two of Zuma's appeals were the result of deliberate conduct by Maya. It says both were "as a result of administrative challenges".

The Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) has confirmed that Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya has dismissed former president Jacob Zuma's latest legal bid to force the removal of prosecutor Billy Downer from his corruption trial.

In a statement released on Thursday night, the OCJ also strongly denied any suggestion that the delays in the SCA dealing with two Zuma appeals - his corruption trial reconsideration application and his bid to appeal a court ruling that he had been unlawfully granted medical parole - had been deliberate.     

"It is most unfortunate that the delays on these two matters have been directly attributed to the President of the SCA, Justice Maya. Some reports have suggested that the delays were a deliberate act on her part. The facts in this regard do not support these assertions," the OCJ stated.

SANDTON, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 02: President of
Mandisa Maya.
Gallo Images Gallo Images/Daily Maverick/Felix Dlangamandla

"As has been explained to members of the media that have taken the time to enquire with the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) personnel, the delays were as a result of administrative challenges within the SCA general office.

READ | Sunday Times slams Dudu Myeni for 'manhandling' photographer outside Zuma trial

"The OCJ, as the administrative support to the judiciary, has identified the challenges relating to these matters and is currently addressing any inadequacies in control measures and processes within the general office. The OCJ has assured president Maya that they will take the necessary corrective measures to address the failures of its support staff."

Billy Downer, the National Prosecuting Authority l
Billy Downer, lead prosecutor in the Zuma case, at court.
AFP PHILL MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

The OCJ statement comes after Zuma's corruption trial was postponed until August, so that Maya could rule on the former president's reconsideration application.

While Zuma's lawyers had filed that application on 11 April, Downer told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that it was still "on its way" to her.

"President Maya became seized with it [the reconsideration application] on 17 May 2022 and not since March 2022 as has been widely reported in the media," the OCJ stated.

"She attended the application expeditiously, in line with the conventions of the SCA, and thereafter issued an order disposing of the application on 20 May 2022."

Parole

On the delay in the SCA hearing Zuma's challenge to the ruling that he was unlawfully granted medical parole, while serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of the Constitutional Court, the OCJ stated that: "President Maya, having considered the application for an expedited date of hearing of the appeal, sent an email to the former Registrar of the SCA, Mr Paul Myburgh, on 11 February 2022 requesting him to inform the parties that she was disposed to set the appeal down for hearing during May 2022.

READ | Zuma medical parole appeal set for August

"The former registrar was also requested to enquire from the parties as to when they would be ready to file the appeal record and their respective heads of argument to enable her to issue the necessary directives. The former registrar instead wrote to the parties that the appeal could 'not be accommodated'."

The statement concludes that Maya, who will interview for the position of Deputy Chief Justice on 20 June, "remains committed to the principle of judicial independence and the application of the law impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice as required by the Constitution".

In a statement on Thursday evening, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga welcomed the SCA judgment dismissing the reconsideration application by Zuma.

"According to a statement by the SCA, President Maya dismissed the application on 20 May 2022. We will now focus on ensuring that the trial resumes on 15 August 2022."


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