South Africa’s Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s petition seeking to remove state prosecutor Billy Downer from his corruption trial.
This judgment means that his corruption trial would begin on April 11 next year at the same court. Zuma’s legal team filed a special application to have Downer removed from prosecuting the case, accusing him of bias. Zuma had argued that Downer’s past conduct, including the leak of the information to media, meant that a fair trial wouldn’t be possible. Zuma was present in court for the handing down of the judgment. This was his first appearance in court since his medical issues in August.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation, founded by him, would advise the former president to appeal the ruling, the foundation’s spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi told reporters outside the court. Zuma faces 16 charges of corruption, money laundering, fraud and racketeering all relating to the arms deals purchased by the state in 1999. His former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik was convicted of fraud charges and given a 15-year sentence in the Durban high court in 2005.