UPDATE | Zuma sues Downer, TBEN journalist; NPA labels it as ‘abuse of process’ | TBEN


Former President Jacob Zuma

  • Jacob Zuma has launched a private prosecution against state attorney Billy Downer and Karyn Maughan of TBEN.
  • This after TBEN published details of Zuma’s doctor’s letter, which were attached to the court papers.
  • TBEN editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson says Zuma’s allegations are a “bullying attempt”.

Former President Jacob Zuma has launched a private prosecution against TBEN journalist Karyn Maughan and state attorney Billy Downer.

The charges relate to TBEN’s publication of details about Zuma’s medical condition, which were added last year to court documents filed with the KwaZulu-Natal Supreme Court in Pietermaritzburg.

Zuma claims it has violated elements of the National Prosecuting Act.

READ | Jacob Zuma files private prosecution against prosecutor Billy Downer

He was given medical parole by then-head of the correctional services department, Arthur Fraser, shortly after being incarcerated last July.

Zuma’s legal team claims Downer leaked the information to Maughan.

The subpoena was served on Maughan and Downer on Tuesday morning and they will appear before the KwaZulu-Natal Supreme Court in Pietermaritzburg on October 10, 2022.

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TBEN editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson said the development was “clearly an attempt by Mr Zuma to bully Maughan and TBEN when he knows we’ve done nothing wrong”.

He said:

There is absolutely nothing strange or wrong about accessing court documents that are about to be filed in court, for the public. Court documents are inherently public documents. This is a cornerstone of open justice in a democracy. Maughan was just doing her job and threatening her with private prosecution is a blatant and cynical attack on media freedom in this country. Maughan will continue to report on Mr Zuma’s criminal cases and we will defend her to the fullest.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after refusing to comply with a Constitutional Court order to appear before the Zondo Commission. He was sent to the Estcourt Correctional Center.

A month later, Brigadier General Mcebisi Mdutywa wrote a letter informing the prison and prosecution authorities that Zuma had suffered a “traumatic injury” in November 2020 and required “extensive emergency treatment” with six months to recover.

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Maughan wrote about the letter because it was part of court documents that had already been filed, making it public.

In June of this year, the former president named Downer and Maughan as respondents in his court papers and the NPA issued a nolle prosequi certificate, stating that it would not prosecute Downer, the lead prosecutor in Zuma’s corruption case.

June 8, 2005. Interview with Billy Downer's head

Brilliant Legal Mind: Prosecutor Billy Downer SC.

This opened the door for the charges against Maughan and Downer.

The NPA has dismissed Zuma’s charges against Downer, calling it “abuse of process” and reiterating its confidence in Downer’s prosecution of Zuma.

“The NPA and her leadership fully support Downer as we believe these charges are baseless. They are only intended to intimidate him into the prosecution of Zuma and further delay the trial. The private prosecution comes down on misuse of process Downer will “I will continue to lead the NPA team in the Zuma/Thales trial. He has the full confidence of the NPA leaders. His track record of integrity and professionalism with the prosecution speaks for itself,” the NPA said in a statement on Tuesday.

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The NPA added that it expects attacks on its prosecutors to increase as coup cases reach the courts, and that it will defend itself against “unwarranted attacks and intimidation”.

“Prosecutors must act without fear or favor in fulfilling their constitutional mandate to account for crime in our country. The people of our country, all victims of state captivity, expect nothing less from members of the NPA,” the statement reads. . .

Editor’s Note: The story has been edited to reflect that TBEN wrote about a letter written by Zuma’s doctor, not his full medical record.