Ramaphosa laughs the loudest as Zuma is dealt another court blow

The Johannesburg High Court has dismissed Jacob Zuma’s leave to appeal the dismissal of his private prosecution of his successor President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Zuma launched a private prosecution bid against the Ramaphosa on the eve of the ANC’s elective conference in December 2022.

At the time, the Jacob Zuma Foundation announced that the former statesman was suing his successor in relation to his case against advocate Billy Downer, the state prosecutor.

Also mentioned in the case was Media 24 journalist Karyn Maughan who, he alleged, unlawfully leaked his medical records.

At the time, the foundation said Ramaphosa was “an accessory after the fact in the crimes committed by among others, advocate Downer, namely breaching the provisions of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] Act” in his corruption case.

However, the Presidency refuted the allegations, saying Zuma is abusing legal processes and stating that the charges are “spurious and unfounded”.

Ramaphosa filed an urgent interdict application in which he argued that in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act, a private prosecution could only be instituted after the individual prosecuting had obtained a certificate of non-prosecution.

In July, the high court in Johannesburg ruled that the prosecution is inconsistent with the law and is unconstitutional.

The sedulous former statesman then applied for leave to appeal the ruling and failed in his last bid.

Handing down the judgment on Tuesday, judge Lebogang Modiba stated: “The application is dismissed with costs. I should mention that it’s an unanimous judgment of this court.”

The Presidency welcomed the court’s decision, reiterating the office’s stance in the matter.

“The Presidency notes and welcomes the dismissal of Mr JG Zuma’s leave to appeal the setting aside of his private prosecution of the president,” said the Presidency.

“As we have always maintained from the onset, the private prosecution had no basis in law and constituted an abuse of private prosecution provisions.”

This is the second blow for the former president in less than 24 hours.

On Monday, the high court in Pietermaritzburg dismissed Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a dismissal of his private prosecution of Downer and Maughan.

The court preserved its conclusion that another court would unlikely arrive at a different decision.

Handing down his judgement on Monday, judge Gregory Kruger emphasized that the court had already examined the grounds for appeal and addressed them in its initial judgment.

While acknowledging the significance of the case, Kruger stated that he did not find compelling reasons to grant leave to appeal.

“We have reached the conclusion that Mr Zuma’s arguments lack merit,” said Kruger.


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