Judge President (JP) Achmat Jappie of the KZN Division is yet to respond to former President Jacob Zuma’s counsel on the issue of the private discussions he had with the State regarding the matter between the State/JG Zuma & Thales South Africa. The former president and Thales face charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering linked to the multi-billion arms deal.
This emerged at yesterday’s pre-trial hearing at which Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane SC, acting for Zuma, disclosed that they had not received a response to their letter of 25 May 2020 in which they asked Jappie to give reasons for the ex parte communication he had with the State’s Advocate Billy Downer SC. The discussions excluded both the Zuma legal team and Deputy Judge President Mjabuliseni Madondo.
Referring to the correspondence between the two, Sikhakhane said their unhappiness was not because they questioned “the role of a judge president to manage a matter…we were unhappy that they spoke, because if you read the letter it discloses to you that they did not just discuss matters of an arrangement, that Mr Downer may want us to believe. It is clear to us that changing and amending an indictment was discussed…..”Letter to the Hon Justice Jappie JP and Madondo DJP 25.05.2020
“The last question in that letter that we have asked….the JP has not answered us, we will wait patiently. Mr Downer doesn’t, he tries to answer for the JP. We’ve asked again; was that the only discussion between them? Because we don’t want to rush that issue we await their answer because we will take it further from there if that’s the only time they’ve had this discussion.”
Judge Kate Pillay: “Just on that point, just on that point, on the assumption that you will not receive a reply, what will your further action be?”
Sikhakhane: “In respect of Mr Downer or in respect of the JP?”
Pillay: “Well they’re both affected by the concern you raised in your letter.”
Sikhakhane: Well I will take instruction from my client but I think in respect of the JP we could well let the matter go, we could well report him to the Judicial Services Commission. We could well report Mr Downer to the NDPP [National Director of Public Prosecutions] or the Legal Practice Council but I don’t have those instructions at the moment and I don’t want to anticipate what my client will want to do but we do record in this matter that we find this inappropriate”.
The pre-trial hearing has been adjourned until September 8, 2020 for the setting of a trial date.