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NPA won’t get involved in Ramaphosa and Zuma legal squabble, high court hears

NPA won’t get involved in Ramaphosa and Zuma legal squabble, high court hears
Jacob Zuma and his daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla at the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Johannesburg on 17 May, 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

The two-day hearing to listen to arguments between lawyers for President Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma began in court on Wednesday.

The National Prosecuting Authority says it refuses to take sides in the ongoing legal squabble between President Cyril Ramphosa and former president Jacob Zuma. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal and the NPA are listed as the second and third respondents in a case before the Gauteng Division of the high court in Johannesburg. 

Former president Zuma attended the proceedings personally, along with his daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla. Allies Carl Niehaus and Ace Magashule were also present.

Ramaphosa has taken Zuma to court to try and interdict a private prosecution that Zuma instituted in December 2022, shortly before the ANC’s elective conference. Zuma has accused Ramaphosa of being an accessory to a crime in his ongoing private prosecution against Billy Downer SC.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa calls Zuma’s private prosecution ‘frivolous’, Zuma accuses president of delaying tactics

Advocate Frank Mothibedi SC, representing the NPA, told the court the NPA would not debate the merits of the case but provided the factual position relating to the nolle prosequi certificates that Zuma has relied on in his case against Ramaphosa. 

“We do not want to enter that fray. It is between the former president and current President,” he said. 

Zuma has used two certificates — one issued in June 2022 and a second in November. Mothibedi said the first certificate had lapsed after the three-month period required by law. 

“The first certificate has lapsed. It is not even necessary for court to make a finding on that because it is moot,” he said. 

He added that when the second certificate was issued, Ramaphosa was never considered a suspect and the KZN DPP, Advocate Elaine Zungu, “did not apply her mind” to whether Ramaphosa could be prosecuted by the NPA. 

“The current president was at no point a suspect,” he said. 

A nolle prosequi certificate is issued by the NPA if it declines to prosecute a case. A private individual can then go on to prosecute the case independently and at their own cost. At the time of the certificates being issued, Zuma had told the NPA he plans to prosecute Downer but Ramaphosa’s name was not expressly mentioned in his initial complaint. 

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma at the Johannesburg high court on 17 May, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Papi Morake)

Mothibedi denied an allegation, put forward by the Blackhouse Kollective Foundation, the amicus curiae in the case, that Ramaphosa is being protected. 

“There is no merit in that. It is only speculation. The function of the 2nd and 3rd respondent is that they owe allegiance to the constitution, not to the current President,” he said. 

Ramaphosa’s legal representatives began the day by presenting arguments on why the case should proceed before judges Selby Baqwa, Lebogang Modiba and Mohammed Ismail. 

Zuma has argued that Ramaphosa should not have brought the case before a civil court, to apply for an interdict, instead of appearing before the criminal court. 

Advocate Ngwako Maenetje SC, for Ramaphosa, said the President is exercising his constitutional rights. 

“As an individual occupying an office, when his rights are breached he has the right to approach the court. Even the office, not just the human being occupying the office, has an interest in the impact of unlawful private prosecution. The president has a constitutional obligation to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution. Defending the Constitution involves defending the rule of law. This case involves the defence of the rule of law,” he said. 

Maenetje argued that the court should grant an interdict since Zuma had not initially listed Ramaphosa as a suspect but added him later. 

The argument continues. DM 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jennifer D says:

    Why isnt this criminal, who drove SA into the ground, in prison already. It is an indictment on the justice system when someone like Zuma manages to evade prison after all he and his cronies have stolen from South Africa.

  • Caroline de Braganza says:

    What a waste of time. And the T-shirt made me shudder.

    • Walter Spatula says:

      Political support for many is like backing a football team.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Ha ha – personally I love the back Russia T and the New York Yankees peak cap combo.

      Daddy I’m just so confused, I want to help and make a statement I really do, but ooh the cap is so me! Can I wear both?

      Well darling, I can be sick and well at the same time, so I’m sure it’s fine.

      Clowns, one and all.

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