NPA denies shielding Ramaphosa from private prosecution bid

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) defended its independence and that of its head, advocate Shamila Batohi, before the high court in Johannesburg on Wednesday, saying it is not its place to get entangled in a legal dispute.

NPA’s legal representative advocate Tebogo Mathibedi SC told the full court that his clients preferred not to join the fray in the legal battle between President Cyril Ramaphosa and former statesman Jacob Zuma.

Mathibedi said the NPA’s affidavit on the matter only intended to provide the necessary background that led to its decision not to prosecute senior state prosecutor, advocate Billy Downer, for allegedly leaking Zuma’s private medical records to News24 journalist Karyn Maughan.

Zuma alleged that he reported the leak to Ramaphosa expecting him to launch an inquiry to investigate the matter. However, he failed to act, a reason why he is facing private prosecution as an accessory after the fact.

The NPA had issued two certificates confirming the decision to decline to prosecute anyone in relation to the matter, which Zuma used to press charges against Ramaphosa.

Mathibedi said Ramaphosa was not a suspect when Zuma pressed charges against Downer. On the contrary, he said, the president was served with an indictment and would be called as a witness.

Beyond that, he said, the NPA was unwilling to join the fray. “It’s between the former president and the current president,” he said.

He also dismissed the allegations by BlackHouse Kollective, which was previously admitted as a friend of the court, that the NPA was protecting Ramaphosa.

“We respectfully submit that there is no merit in that. It’s only speculation that is not supported by any factual evidence.”

Mothibedi added that the NPA and Batohi only owed their allegiance to the constitution and not Ramaphosa.

“So on those basis, we respectfully submit that those are merely vexatious, malicious, and spurious allegations,” he said.

That is our argument, he noted, adding that the posture was intended to demonstrate the NPA’s independence.


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