LETTER: Jacob Zuma gets some of his own medicine
The former president defamed Billy Downer dreadfully in an affidavit filed in his filibustering application for a permanent stay of his prosecution
Karyn Maughan reports that prosecutor Billy Downer, SC, is fighting back against Jacob Zuma by invoking the newly minted evidential principle that “reckless and odious political posturing” is a definite no-no in court papers (“NPA’s Billy Downer Sues Zuma for ‘Vexatious’ Statements”, April 11). This droll development occurred after Zuma defamed Downer dreadfully in an affidavit filed in his filibustering application for a permanent stay of his prosecution on crimes largely committed in another century.
Zuma has been hoist with his own petard. The new take on the law of evidence, a stunning departure from well-established precedent, was fashioned by the majority of the justices in the Constitutional Court in 2014 in the Glenister litigation concerning the Hawks. The expert evidence of Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies and Gavin Woods of Stellenbosch University, playing the role of canaries in the corruption coal mine that constituted Zuma’s administration of criminal justice, was disallowed. Their evidence was critical of the probity and integrity of Zuma and his merry band of looters. The justices struck out the unanswered evidence of the two experts rather than grapple with the hard, uncontroverted truths it contained. Truths upon which the ANC’s culture of impunity in place in SA today is based.
In this way the justices ducked dealing with the type of questions that are now being asked, and hopefully will be answered, in the Zondo commission. Their choice to shield Zuma’s honour and dignity (if any) so innovatively has been converted into a sword with which to smite him.
Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa