THE story surrounding accusations that Judge President (JP) Achmat Jappie of the KZN Division allegedly approached the State’s Advocate Billy Downer SC in former President Jacob Zuma’s arms deal corruption case will obviously fuel the already held suspicion by Zuma supporters who believe he will not receive a fair trial.
Jappie, in terms of a letter from Zuma’s counsel Eric Mabuza complaining about an alleged call from the former to Downer, and subsequent email communication between the two regarding information on the possible trial date and the duration of the trial, was not involved in the case. It has now emerged that he was not even on duty on the day the alleged call was made, a point which has angered his boss Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, according to sources close to the case.
The Judiciary spokesman, Nathi Ncube confirmed that Jappie only returned to his chambers on 26 May 2020 and had not seen the correspondence from both Downer, in which he updates him on the Zuma case, or Mabuza before then. “He was neither aware of the email from Adv Downer nor the letter from Mr Mabuza until it was brought to his attention by the Judiciary Spokesperson”.
Mabuza said they had not received a response from the Judge President to what he and his client deemed to be a serious matter. Ncube said the Judge President “would respond directly to the parties in the case. The parties are at liberty to avail his written response to the members of the media and/or public. Furthermore the aggrieved party or any other member of the public, may lodge a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Committee if he/she holds a view that the Judge President has committed an act of misconduct in the manner in which he is managing the case”.
Ncube would not be drawn into whether Jappie had confirmed the alleged telephone call to which Downer refers in his email of 21 May 2020: “Dear Judge President….I refer to our telephonic conversation yesterday, pursuant to your request to be informed of the expected duration of the trial and a proposed trial date”.
The Zuma legal team in their letter, said they had understood that all correspondence of the parties was to be managed by the DJP Madondo. They complained that the Judge President and Downer had excluded both the defence and Madondo, violating “established and commendable practice to hear all concerned parties in respect of such matters as allocation of dates of hearings. The reasons for this are obvious and related to fairness, equality of arms and the elimination of any reasonable perceptions or apprehension of bias.”
Mabuza in his letter, hinted that they would approach either the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the Chief Justice or the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) if they didnt get a satisfactory explanation as to why they ex parte communication was allowed to happen.
Here’s an article we published yesterday giving the background to the story https://wp.me/p7OMJc-3sY