Despite the looming appeal bid, the Pietermaritzburg High Court has decided that its judgement overturning former President Jacob Zuma’s private prosecution of State advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan is immediately enforceable.
Zuma summoned the two to appear in court for private prosecution last September, claiming that the State illegally disclosed to Maughan what he considered to be a confidential doctor’s note during the course of his arms deal corruption trial.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed the summonses in June as illegal, but Zuma has since filed an appeal, which would normally have the effect of postponing the judgement and allowing the private prosecution to proceed in the interim.
However, Downer and Maughan have obtained a special order declaring the ruling immediately enforceable.
Downer and Maughan had to show exceptional circumstances, as well as that they faced irreparable harm while the previous president did not.
On Thursday, a full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled that they had met that requirement.
In a damning judgment, the court highlighted its previous ruling was “aimed at bringing an end to the abuse inherent in the private prosecution which abuse would continue if the execution order [was] not granted”.
It previously upheld the submission that the private prosecution was an extension of Zuma’s Stalingrad tactics and has now found that this indeed constituted exceptional circumstances, further finding that Zuma’s criticism of the label was flawed given that his own legal representative – the late Kemp J Kemp – had previously described their defence in this manner and that the former president had never actually disavowed it.
Zuma’s also been slapped with costs.