Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team has filed his affidavit requesting prosecutor Billy Downer’s recusal from Zuma’s arms deal corruption trial.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed on Thursday the lawyers sent the plea document via email to the NPA about 11pm on Wednesday.
Ngwema said the NPA was studying the document and would submit their response in court as expected.
He said Zuma seemed to be regurgitating old falsehoods in an attempt to delay the trial.
“At face value, it looks like a regurgitation of the old false issues that have been previously rejected by the courts. However, the matter is now sub judice, we will deal with it extensively in court as required,” Ngwema said in a brief statement.
The protracted case against Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales was postponed to 26 May 2021 on Monday after judge Piet Koen gave the former president’s new legal team until Wednesday to file an affidavit outlining their reasons for demanding Downer’s recusal.
Zuma’s lawyer, advocate Thabani Masuku, also told the high court in Pietermaritzburg his client would plead not guilty when the trial resumes next week.
Zuma and Thales are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal signed when Zuma was KZN MEC for economic development in the 1990s. He is facing 16 counts including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering, while Thales faces four counts.
The NPA has defended Downer, saying he had worked on the arms deal case for more than two decades. He prosecuted Zuma’s former financial advisor Schabir Shaik on the same matter.
In June 2005, the high court in Durban found Shaik guilty of corruption and sentenced him to more than 15 years in jail. He was later released on medical parole in March 2009.