South Africa


Zuma’s security deposit raised by R500,000 as court battle with Downer, Maughan begins

Zuma’s security deposit raised by R500,000 as court battle with Downer, Maughan begins
Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

An extraordinary private case got under way on Monday morning in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, with former president Jacob Zuma gunning for a journalist and a prosecutor related to his protracted arms deal corruption trial.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court heard on Monday that former president Jacob Zuma’s security deposit in his private criminal prosecution of advocate Billy Downer and senior News24 journalist Karyn Maughan for allegedly contravening the National Prosecuting Authority Act, had been increased by R500,000.

Zuma’s advocate, Dali Mpofu SC, revealed the amount when addressing Judge Nkosinathi Chili, who was presiding over what he said he thought would be civil applications in the matter, including an increase in the security amount needed for the private prosecution.  

Zuma’s parole for his contempt of court conviction – had he not been released early on medical parole – came to an end on Friday. He was in court on Monday, along with loyal supporters, including his daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, newly elected ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Siboniso Duma, deputy chairperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, Dudu Myeni, Carl Niehaus, Mzwanele Manyi and ANC KZN executive committee members. 

Former president Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on. Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images /Darren Stewart)

A small crowd had gathered in support of Zuma early in the morning and grew throughout the day, but the number was still paltry compared with the crowds he used to draw at the start of his arms deal court appearances.  

Read in Daily Maverick: “Politically weak and inconsequential Jacob Zuma free again — for now

Zuma had previously deposited about R90,000 for expenses that could be incurred by both defendants, but Downer, accused one, made an application for the amount to be increased by at least R1-million. 

Considering that Downer had accepted the security amount, said Mpofu, the need for Chili to hear that application had fallen away. He also said Downer had indicated he may well still bring a cost order at the end of the trial. 

From left: Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, advocate Dali Mpofu and Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Mlonday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Downer is being represented by Wim Trengove, while accused two, Maughan (backed by her employer News24), has retained the services of Steven Budlender. Both men are senior counsel. 

In his application to have the security increased, Downer had said the 10 days expected for the criminal trial could cost just more than R500,000 for senior counsel and R450,000 for two junior counsel. Added to this were consultation fees of about R100,000 and contingencies of R5,000.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Billy Downer wants Jacob Zuma to pony up R1m as security in private prosecution

Zuma has accused Maughan of, in August 2021, unlawfully obtaining and publishing the contents of a confidential medical letter from his doctor relating to his fitness to stand trial in the arms deal graft case – also being heard at the Pietermaritzburg High Court – wherein he is accused number one and French arms manufacturer Thales is accused number two. Zuma alleges that Maughan “leaked” the documents by Downer via a third party, in contravention of section 41(6) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act. 

Maughan and Downer have both said that the medical letter had already been filed by the court (including once being filed by Zuma’s own attorneys) and was thus a public document when it was sent to Maughan. 

Advocate Billy Downer at in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Zuma had initially wanted the cases to be consolidated, but this was rejected by the defendants. The matters will, however, be heard together. The former president has 23 names on his witness list. 

Maughan has made an urgent application to have the summons Zuma issued against her set aside, saying the NPA has not issued a nolle prosequi certificate for her (as it had done for Downer). She also contends that Zuma privately prosecuting her is an abuse of process, a violation of the right to free media and a violation of the right to freedom of expression. 

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Downer has also launched an application in the high court to have Zuma’s prosecution of him declared invalid and an abuse of process. “The private prosecutor (Zuma) doesn’t have standing to prosecute,” Trengove told the court. 

‘Conflict of interest’

Maughan’s urgent application to have the summons issued by Zuma set aside could not be heard on Monday because the judge who was set to hear it had a “conflict of interest”, said Budlender. She still considered the matter “urgent”, he said. 

Karyn Maughan in court on Monday. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

“Miss Maughan’s position is that the matter is extremely urgent and she wishes to have it heard as soon as possible because her case, as it appears from the papers, is that the application has been brought for the sole purpose of harassing her, intimidating her, and preventing her from doing her job. 

“Now, of course, Mr Zuma disputes that, and he’s entitled to dispute that, but that is Miss Maughan’s case. But as a practical matter, because the urgent judge couldn’t hear the matter this morning because he had a conflict of interest, that is the reason that the matter has not been removed from the roll but stood down,” said Budlender. 

Dudu Myeni and Duduzile Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

After a break in which he consulted with all three counsel in his chambers, Chili said the applications to have the private prosecutions of Maughan and Downer dismissed would be heard on 8 and 9 December, while the actual prosecution was adjourned to 2 February. 

After leaving the court precinct, Zuma took to an ANC-branded mobile stage, where he started singing and dancing while singing “Umshini wami” and encouraging his followers to join in. He thanked the ANC in KZN for their support and said he was confident he would be successful in his prosecution of Maughan and Downer. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • R S says:

    Man, for someone who is broke Zuma sure has some deep pockets.

  • Chris Reed says:

    Zuma singing and dancing on the stage hardly seem the actions of a terminally ill man.
    You would think if he had even a hint of shame, he would not throw this in the faces of the South African public.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    Good Lord, our esteemed elder statesman is looking very well, at least from the provided photograph. Plus dancing and singing his favourite Umshini Wam afterwards! For a man confidently diagnosed as having a terminal illness by our excellent military doctors, this must indeed be a miracle. A recent trip to Lourdes perhaps? Or a worthy inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records?

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Given Zumas stalingrad tactics this could drag out. By their friends ye shall know them.. What a doubtful bunch of supporters. Many if them should be in gaol already.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Trengove and Budlender vs Mpofu. Who wants to take bets on this outcome? We all trust that DoJ and SARS do take a careful look at the source of funds on that R500k deposit…

  • Chris 123 says:

    So Zuma is supposed to be broke, where does he get all the money for his court cases? He can’t pay his VBS bond but can find the money for expensive advocates, although I see he has loser in chief Mpofu so there goes R1M.

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    VBS Liquidators crying, Pay back the bond

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    I wonder who paid rent-a-crowd? An investigative journalism opportunity perhaps.

  • Thomas Cleghorn says:

    Not sure of the possible outcomes but could Downer and Maughan get lucky and walk away with some cash, say for malicious prosecution and possible loss of earnings? However, I remember my mum always said, “You cant shave a bald man.”

  • LindaP N says:

    Please can we stop giving this “sick”man, Zuma the exposure he obviously revels in. This country needs to move away from his antics and start focusing on repairing the damage caused by him.

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