Jacob Zuma’s ‘troubling’ insistence on prosecuting RamaphosaDecember 22, 2022
Former president Jacob Zuma’s seemingly futile insistence on privately prosecuting President Cyril Ramaphosa has been described as odd and a creative use of the private prosecution mechanism.
This after the Jacob Zuma Foundation accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of lying when it said Ramaphosa was not mentioned in the nolle prosequi certificates.
The foundation on Thursday also rejected the NPA’s statement that the nolle prosequi certificates it issued to former president Jacob Zuma and his legal team did not extend to Ramaphosa.
Former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela has warned that what was emerging through this matter was a regulatory lacuna (gap) on private prosecutions.
“This creative use of the private prosecution mechanism has the potential to not only open the floodgates for vexatious litigation but also to expose ordinary people to harassment through the criminal legal system,” she said in a tweet on Thursday.
Madonsela said an award for creative reasoning was deserved in this matter, asking how on earth does referring a request to the authorised Cabinet member make one an accessory to a non-continuing crime that has allegedly happened.
“Much odder, how does failure to act ultra vires your powers, amount to obstructing justice?” she quizzed.
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According to Madonsela, even if by some stretch of imagination, wrongfulness was a possibility, this was clearly matter of administrative law and not criminal law.
On the eve of the 55th #ANC Elective Conference last week, Zuma raised eyebrows when he instituted a private prosecution summons against Ramaphosa in a bid to have the NPA lead prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer, removed from the arms deal corruption trial.
He accused Ramaphosa “for being an accessory after the fact in the crimes committed by among others Downer namely for breaching the provisions of the NPA Act”.
But Ramaphosa’s lawyers wrote to Zuma demanding he withdraw the private prosecution by latest Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the NPA’s advocate Rodney De Kock, the head of prosecution services, said the NPA had issued two “nolle prosequi” certificates in good faith to Zuma in compliance with Section 7 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
He explained that these certificates were issued in direct relation to the docket (Pietermaritzburg CAS 309/10/21) which contained statements and affidavits relating to specific individuals for alleged contravention of Section 41 (6) read with Section 41(7) of the NPA Act.
De Kock clarified that “the nolle certificates apply to any persons who are specifically mentioned in the docket. The president was not mentioned in any of the affidavits or statements, and thus the certificates were not issued in relation to him”.
But the Jacob Zuma Foundation has since dismissed NPA’s clarification, pointing out that Ramaphosa was indeed mentioned in the PMB SAPS Docket and asked the prosecuting authority to apologise.
Additional reporting by Faizel Patel.
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