South Africa’s Ex-President Jacob Zuma on Thursday made his first public appearance since his release from prison on medical parole last month, to lay charges against a chief state prosecutor in his corruption trial.
Zuma went to the Pietermaritzburg’s Loop Street Police Station in the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg, where he is on trial for corruption, to open a criminal case against advocate Billy Downer for allegedly leaking his current state of health to the media.
Ex-President Zuma stepped briskly out of his vehicle and up to the building’s entrance surrounded by security personnel, according to reporters at the scene.
The Former President who was accompanied by one of his daughters, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, waved at his supporters gathered on the street and outside the police station, singing and dancing in Zuma-print t-shirts.
Zuma has enough evidence
Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, said the Ex-President has enough evidence for the charges he has filed and was hopeful justice will be administered.
“There’s a whole thick arch lever file of evidence he has brought to show that what he’s talking about is not something he’s made up. He’s got evidence and he has submitted all the evidence to the police. The police will obviously investigate”.Mzwanele Manyi
Supporters of the Former President also remain optimistic that Mr. Zuma will be acquitted. One of the supporters, Landile Vika, promised their everlasting support for the Ex-President.
“We will always be with him because he has been with us. So we will not leave him during this time. We will stay with him, all the time. Because we are the people of Zuma and we will die with him. We will go where he goes”.Landile Vika
Downer could face a 15-year sentence
Last month, Jacob Zuma’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, explained that the Act prohibited Downer from providing legal documents to the media. He said Downer risks facing a 15-year sentence if found guilty of the charges.
“Former President Zuma takes the strongest possible exception to what was done with his confidential information and the way it was treated in this court. It amounts to criminal activity”.Dali Mpofu
Editor-in-chief of South Africa’s largest website, News24, wrote that “Former President Jacob Zuma has a short memory; his own lawyer also submitted a letter about his health to court and a year ago, he happily told the internet how he was poisoned”.
Adriaan Basson said Mr. Zuma’s latest victim card is nothing but a desperate, hollow attempt to divert attention from the impending ruling by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on advocate Billy Downer’s ability to prosecute him. The next hearing is set for October 26, 2021.
In July, Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court for ignoring a separate inquiry into mass looting of public funds during his rule.
His jailing sparked violent protests and looting in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal that spread to the financial hub of Johannesburg in July, claiming over 350 lives. Aged 79, Zuma was released from prison due to ill health two months into his 15-month jail sentence for refusing to collaborate with a graft probe into his 2009-18 Presidency.
Mr. Zuma was hospitalized and underwent surgery for an undisclosed ailment. Critics accused the ex-leader of using ill health as an excuse to further delay a drawn-out corruption trial relating to a 1999 purchase of arms from five European firms.
Deputy President at the time, Zuma is accused of pocketing bribes from French defense giant, Thales and faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering. The trial kicked off this year after decades of postponements and delays. But for now, Zuma wants Downer to recuse himself for allegedly sharing confidential medical information with the media.