Downer, then head of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) prosecution team investigating the charges against Zuma, and is now deputy director of public prosecutions in the NPA.
President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers asked for a postponement to file their heads of argument in the DA’s application to review the decision to drop corruption charges against him in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday. The postponement was granted until the 22 June.
The DA wants the charges reinstated against Zuma.
In an affidavit submitted as part of the case, Downer said: “I urged [Bulelani] Ngcuka [then NPA boss] to prosecute Zuma … on the basis of the prosecution team’s assessment of the strength of the evidence against him.”
Downer said he was convinced at the time that Ngcuka was “protecting” Zuma from prosecution.
Claims have been made that Zuma was “hounded” by Ngcuka, ostensibly on the orders of then-president, Thabo Mbeki.
The charges were dropped in April 2009 by the then-acting NPA head, Mokotedi Mpshe, citing a “political conspiracy” against Zuma.
Mpshe based this on recorded conversations on the so-called spy tapes between the then-head of the now defunct elite unit Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy and the former NPA head, Ngcuka.
Downer further claims that there was no basis for the withdrawal of the charges. The conversations in the spy tapes did not affect the decision to drop the charges, he says.
“The prosecuting team was opposed to the decision to discontinue prosecution against Zuma,” he says in the affidavit.
Yesterday the DA said Downer’s affidavit “strengthened” their case to have the charges against Zuma reinstated.
DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said: “We believe we have a strong case.”
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said yesterday the unit had filed its opposing affidavits.
“The matter is before the court. We will let the court process unfold and comment,” said Mfaku.