Jacob Zuma tells Cyril Ramaphosa court summons are binding until set aside by a court of law

Former president Jacob Zuma caused a stir at the 55th ANC National Conference when he arrived while President Jacob Zuma was delivering his political report, causing disruptions to the proceedings on Friday. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
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Johannesburg – The legal team of former president Jacob Zuma has responded to the one of president Cyril Ramaphosa which had earlier claimed that he may ignore the summons served on him.

In a letter sent out late on Saturday night, Zuma’s legal team said in South Africa, summons cannot be ignored and cited a legal precedent to that effect.

This was in response to a letter by the Office of the State Attorney which on Saturday afternoon said Zuma’s summons to Ramaphosa over the Billy Downer matter were defective, were served at the wrong address (at Ramaphosa’s private home instead of state residence) and were an abuse of the law.

Furthermore, Ramaphosa’s legal team questioned the timing of the summons which coincided with the ANC’s national elective conference, but Zuma’s team said they wanted this to be done last week, but the president said he was not available.

Earlier this week, Zuma indicated he would be instituting private prosecution against Ramaphosa over the Phala Phala scandal.

“The document delivered to the President’s private residence did not include a nolle prosequi certificate in relation to him.

“It therefore has nothing to do with the President. The nolle prosequi certificate that is included in the summons concerns a certain Mr William John Downer.

“The President was never cited in those proceedings and could thus not be the subject of such a certificate, at any rate.

“‘For these reasons, that document was not properly processed for purposes of section 7(2) and as such is not a valid summons. A nolle prosequi certificate is a basic requirement for private prosecution.

“This requirement has clearly not been met. The purported summons lack any legal validity,” the state attorney said in a letter to Zuma’s legal team.

But Zuma’s legal team says that is not the case, Ramaphosa has to attend to the summon because there is a precedent that no one can simply ignore a summon.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, the current summons which has been duly issued by the Registrar of the High Court and lawfully served by the Sheriff, remains valid until the summons may either be withdrawn by our client or set aside by a court of law.

“If you are agreeable and due to the ongoing conference, kindly also agree to extend the time within which we may revert with our client’s final position, to 20 or 21 December 2022.

“In the meantime, please inform us as soon as possible, but not later that 17h00 on 18 December 2022 whether or not our abovementioned counterproposals regarding method of service and reverting date are accepted,” they said.

It was not clear at the time of compiling this report whether Ramaphosa or his legal team has received the letter.

On Friday, Ramaphosa and Zuma caused a stir when the pair were caught on camera sharing a light-hearted moment hours after Zuma indicated he would be instituting private prosecution against the president.