Corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma wants the court to probe his claims of “prosecutorial abuses,” among them that the state had been collaborating with foreign intelligence agencies – like the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – in his prosecution over the arms deal.
Last month, the embattled Zuma brought a special plea for the recusal of the lead prosecutor in the case, state advocate Billy Downer SC and for his own acquittal. In the papers, his claims include that the state had been working with foreign intelligence agencies on his investigation. He suggested Downer had been part of a cover up.
Downer has since flatly denied knowing anything about foreign intelligence involvement in the state’s replying papers. But Zuma isn’t backing down and in his latest filings has called for an evidential inquiry.
“I am convinced this prosecution is an attack on my role as a political leader which has always intended and continues to intend to complete the efforts of the apartheid security system to which I was one of the prime security targets,” he said in the new papers filed.
He wants an inquiry “into the extent of involvement of foreign intelligence agencies in my prosecution and more particularly in my political role – which it appears had to be neutralised by a number of acts of clear violations.”
“At the hearing of this application, I will seek an order that an evidentiary hearing be conducted on the issues relating to whether evidence of political and intelligence meddling has undermined the state’s duty to conduct a fair and impartial hearing.”
Zuma is arguing his special plea on the grounds that, according to him, Downer doesn’t have the title to prosecute him. His case is that he claims Downer has become personally invested in the case and isn’t impartial.
Downer has since denied the allegations and said even if he were to be recused, his colleagues could take over and Zuma wouldn’t be entitled to an acquittal. But now Zuma also wants the court to rule that “no person who is mandated by the NPA and the NPA itself is [not] qualified to conduct the prosecution”.
Zuma has also denied the state’s argument that his “special plea” was a veiled attempt to try for another bite of the cherry after his application to stay his prosecution was dismissed by the court in 2019.
Zuma maintained the special plea centred on “criminal acts and prosecutorial misconduct” and that he was “demanding” his acquittal “on the basis that the state has lost the constitutional legitimacy to present evidence against me in accordance with fair trial principles”.
The special plea is set down for hearing next month.