Jacob Zuma has hit out at Karyn Maughan – a veteran legal writer who has covered the former president’s long procrastination at the deprivation of liberty – for allegedly disclosing his ‘state of health’ in his report on the various challenges to his conditional release for medical reasons.
Prosecutor Billy Downer, who hung on for years waiting for state day in court in Zuma’s corruption trial, was also targeted by the former president, now indicted No. 1, for his alleged ‘leak’ from a doctor’s letter to Maughan.
Maughan argued in his founding affidavit that Zuma’s summons is “unlawful, vexatious and a gross abuse of legal process.”
It had been obtained, Maughan said, “for the ulterior purpose of intimidating and harassing me and preventing me from freely doing my work as a journalist covering Mr. Zuma’s criminal trial”.
This ulterior motive was evident from the statements and comments of representatives of Zuma and his close associates, she said, adding: “There is absolutely no prospect of success with regard to the accusations that Mr. Zuma brought against me”.
The first strike should be that Zuma didn’t get a nolle prosequi certificate from the Director of Public Prosecutions legally authorizing him to bring a private prosecution against Maughan, as required by Section 7(2)(a) of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) 51 of 1977.
This should be the end.
Therefore, Zuma lacked standing to bring a private prosecution under Article 7(1) of the CAP in the first place, and had “no substantial and special interest in the matter of the trial since he did not personally suffered no harm as a result of the offense he accuses me of having committed”.
What is Maughan’s alleged sin?
So what legal sin does Zuma claim Maughan committed?
Where did she indeed reveal her “state of health”?
Before you navigate these murky and treacherous waters shrouded in a mist of fleeting stories, turn quickly to someone near you.
Ask: “Do you know what the health condition of Jacob Zuma is?” What exactly is he suffering from?
If you are alone, there is Google. Tap on “Jacob Zuma’s Health Status”.
You will not find a definite answer. Nada, zip, zilch.
Or you will be find many more details of Zuma’s ills in Arthur Fraser’s own submissions in the High Court challenge by the Democratic Alliance, the Helen Suzman Foundation and AfriForum to Fraser’s grant of parole medical at Zuma.
While the medical evaluations of Dr. LJ Mphatswe of the Medical Parole Advisory Board and Zuma’s personal physician, Dr. QSM Mafa, were almost entirely obscured, Mphatswe’s report contains more details.
In it, he describes Zuma’s “life-threatening cardiac and neurological events” as well as “potential surgery” for a “potential development of malignancy resulting from high-grade ileocecal and colon injury. [sic]”.
Attached to Fraser’s high court affidavit was one filed by Nompumelelo Radebe, an employee at the Estcourt Correctional Center where Zuma was incarcerated for contempt of court in July 2021. This sheds further light on Zuma’s symptoms.
Radebe also gives an overview of the first hours of the ex-president sentenced to Estcourt prison and his state of health which deteriorates almost immediately.
Zuma’s first days in prison
After the former president arrived in a blue light convoy and the world caught fire outside, he was “oriented to the rules and regulations of the correctional center”.
Zuma was informed of the “stipulated time for cell unlocking and locking. Mr. Zuma was further informed that he will have to make his bed and clean his cell.
The former president also received “two pairs of delinquent uniforms and toiletries” and “an immediate medical evaluation was carried out”.
On July 10, two days after his incarceration, Radebe said, “I noticed that Zuma was not making his bed or cleaning his cell as planned.
Radebe escalated the matter to his superiors. When asked why he “didn’t make his bed and clean the cell [sic]Mr. Zuma reported that he did not feel well and often felt weak and unable to make his bed or clean his cell”.
The nursing staff were then “guided” to carry out the domestic work of the former president.
On July 21, the prison’s nursing operations manager raised several concerns about Zuma’s physical condition, Radebe said.
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These included a “drastic change in complexion, reddish eyes, weight loss, mobility issues, insomnia, inability to perform primary responsibilities properly [sic] and swelling of the feet which was very concerning”.
Dr. Google could help here with these symptoms and a wacky diagnosis.
By August 5, the team had informed Fraser, who informed him that he had been contacted by a doctor who advised him that Zuma would need to be transferred to an outside hospital for “an urgent medical procedure”.
Zuma was later transferred to Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where he received round-the-clock medical care.
On his release, he picked up at the R5.2 million Waterkloof Ridge home of his wife Bongi Ngema (paid by the Gupta family) before heading off to the rural tranquility of KZN.
Shoot for Maughan
In his affidavit, Maughan said: “A simple review of the facts – all of which are well known to Mr. Zuma and are succinctly set out in a judgment by Judge Piet Koen” clearly showed that the charges were without any basis.
Maughan is accused of having disclosed “without the required authorization, the contents of a letter dated August 8, 2021 from Brigadier-General (Dr) [Mcebisi] Mdutywa of the South African Military Medical Service regarding Mr. Zuma’s medical condition”.
Zuma alleged that the letter was in the possession of the National Prosecuting Authority at the time and had somehow been “leaked” to Maughan.
Maughan said: “The oral request I made to [the advocate] M [Andrew] Breitenbach on August 9, 2021, related to copies of court documents that had been or would be filed for the next day’s hearing.
Court documents are public records and his request, Maughan said, was made on the basis of that agreement.
“It is common practice for journalists to ask lawyers and attorneys for public court documents.”
In fact, Mdutywa’s letter didn’t say much, other than that Zuma had undergone “an important medical procedure.”
Mdutywa’s letter attached to the court documents is far less personally intrusive than those filed by Fraser, with attachments, about Zuma’s health.
Maughan said his reporting on Zuma’s trial and other politically charged issues had “raised the ire of Mr. Zuma and his supporters”.
She had been “repeatedly defamed and threatened, including by members of Mr. Zuma’s family and his representatives at the Jacob G Zuma Foundation (“the Zuma Foundation”) for doing my work.”
Maughan attached transcripts of vicious tweets from Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Sambudla-Zuma.
On August 12, 2021, shortly after Maughan reported on the postponement of a court case, Sambudla-Zuma posted a tweet “referring to beaten journalists in Sri Lanka with the following threat: ‘@KarynMaughan Come Look Here ‘” Maughan said.
Twitter Sewer Pipe Torrent
The announcement of the service of Zuma’s subpoena to Maughan on Sept. 6 was accompanied, she said, “by a torrent of social media abuse directed at me, directed by the Zuma Foundation. , Mr. [Mzwanele] Manyi and Ms. Zuma-Sambudla”.
Maughan said that over the years she had been “subjected to varying degrees of criticism and vitriol on social media and as a journalist you quickly learn to develop thick skin, however unfortunate that may be.” .
“But in recent years, general, often gender-specific abuses have escalated dramatically. The online and real abuse of women journalists has been an issue that has captured the attention of international and local human rights bodies and press freedom organizations.
In July last year, the UN special rapporteur on gender justice and freedom of expression, Irene Khan, published a report on the issue, Maughan said.
Following the Zuma Foundation’s announcement of Zuma’s private prosecution and subsequent tweets from Manyi and Zuma-Sambudla, Maughan said she had become “the target of an unprecedented level of abuse on social media , largely directed against my sex”.
The attacks, she added, “also appeared intended to pose a threat to journalists in general – to intimidate journalists covering Mr. Zuma’s trial and political project, and to discourage them from reporting on the events of critically and independently, insofar as these reports do not please Mr. Zuma, his representatives and his supporters”.
Abuse of legal process
Part of the campaign, Maughan said, was the summons, which was “a gross abuse of the legal process obtained for an ulterior purpose.
“It is a cynical attack on the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, which is the cornerstone of our constitutional democracy and which is protected by section 16 of the Constitution.
“Indeed, Mr. Zuma’s conduct in issuing this summons, given the circumstances set out in this affidavit as a whole, breaches his obligations relating to the right to free speech and freedom of the media contained in Article 16 of the Constitution.” DM