Lessons from the fight against corruption

19 October 2007 | Story by Catherine WynSculley

Going public: Adv Billy Downer SC and Prof Chuma Himonga, warden of All Africa House.

The evening of 11 October, at All Africa House, was one of those rare occasions when Advocate William "Billy" Downer SC, a deputy director of public prosecutions with the National Prosecuting Authority, could speak openly about Major prosecutions: Major Challenges '“ Lessons from the State versus Shaik.

Downer, a former Rhodes Scholar, gave a brief overview of the arms deal and the roots of the investigation and trial. He then went through his list of lessons and challenges from the case.

Downer showed the audience a handwritten fax with JZ and SS as recipients of R500 000, in French and then typed up in English '“ the translation was done by UCT's Dr Olivier Flechais, at very short notice.

A major change after the State vs Shaik, Downer explained, is that the law in South Africa has been updated to reflect "general corruption" as a prosecutable criminal offence. This important and subtle legal development is a milestone not just for South Africa, but for other countries as well.

For more information on the talks at All Africa House, click here.

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