Zuma’s bid to prosecute Ramaphosa privately dealt another blow

President Cyril Ramaphosa has won his bid to set aside the private prosecution brought against him by his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

The Johannesburg High Court recently ruled that the prosecution is inconsistence with the law and is unconstitutional.

Reads the court order: “It is declared that the nolle prosequi certificates issued by the second respondent to Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma dated 6 June and 21 November 2021 do not apply to Mr Cyril Ramaphosa; the summons Mr Zuma issued against Mr Ramaphosa out of this court under case number 2022-059772 dated 15 and 21 December 2022 respectively are unlawful, invalid and set aside.

“Mr Zuma’s private prosecution of Mr Ramaphosa instituted under the summons is unlawful and unconstitutional and is set aside.

“Mr Zuma’s private prosecution of Mr Ramaphosa in respect of the charges set out in the summons and grounded on the allegations set out in the summary of facts attached to the summons is interdicted.

“Mr Zuma shall pay the costs of the applicant, the president of the Republic of South Africa, inclusive of the costs of two counsel where so employed.”

Zuma had launched a private prosecution against the president 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, and 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 subsequently 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 has obtained a certificate of non-prosecution.

This is the second blow for the former president in less than a month. Zuma’s bid to prosecute Downer and Maughan privately bit the dust in June.

The duo emerged victorious when the high court in Pietermaritzburg granted their application to set the private prosecution aside.

Throughout the legal battle, Downer and Maughan consistently argued that Zuma was misusing the court process and pursuing private prosecution with hidden motives.

They contended that the documents in question were already part of the public court record before being published in the media, asserting that they had not acted unlawfully in their respective duties.

Judge Paul Wallis delivered a verdict, granting an interdict prohibiting the disgruntled former statesman from restarting or continuing the private prosecution against the duo.

Additionally, the court ruled that Zuma is responsible for covering the costs of the application, following an attorney and own client scale. This includes the expenses incurred by the two counsels who were employed.

“The respondent is interdicted and restrained from reinstituting, proceeding with or from taking any further steps pursuant to the private prosecution,” reads the judgment.

“The costs of this application are to be paid by the respondent on an attorney and own client scale, such costs to include the costs of two counsel where so employed.”


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