Herald news editor’s extortion trial set

via Herald news editor’s extortion trial set – NewZimbabwe 25/11/2015

THE Herald assistant news editor charged with coercing a Sam Levy Village director into giving him money to stop publication of a story incriminating him as a supporter a Joyce Mujuru was Wednesday given a trial date.

Takunda Maodza, 35, who is on $50 bail will be tried on December 16.

Maodza appeared before Harare magistrate, Tendai Mahwe, and is being charged with attempted extortion.

However, on his initial appearance and through his lawyer Clemence Takaendesa, Maodza advised the court that he intends to contest further remand on the basis of lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the charge.

Prosecutors told the court that charges against Maodza arose on November 3 when he went to Sam Levy Village where he approached the head of security, Charles Kapfupi and asked to see the director of the village, Isaac Levy.

Court heard that Kapfupi left Maodza with Levy in his office and that Maodza then introduced himself as a journalist from The Herald.

He reportedly said he wanted to know if it was true that Levy supported People First, a political project allegedly led by former vice president Joice Mujuru and former presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa.

Maodza is alleged to also have asked if Levy had been approached by Mujuru’s mooted People First political party to be the treasurer of the project.

Levy is said to have denied the allegations.

The state said Maodza went on to produce a letter dated October 21, 2015, addressed to “Hon Didymus Mutasa” with subject being “Treasurer’s Posts – ­People First Project.”

The journalist told Levy that if he did not give him money he was going to publish the story in The Herald.

Court heard that Levy scrutinised the letter and discovered that the letterhead and the signatures were fake.

Maodza allegedly indicated that he got the document from a reliable source and that Mutasa had already confirmed the story.

After that meeting Maodza kept calling Kapfupi on his mobile number using The Herald office landline asking to see Levy and indicating that the matter had serious implications on him if published.

He advised that it would be in his best interests to consider blocking publication by seeking favour from him, the court heard.

The court was told that Levy then phoned Maodza and denied authoring the letter but Maodza is said to have insisted that he had verified the document with Mutasa.

Levy then requested to meet Maodza at Sam Levy’s Village and it was further alleged that this telephone conversation was done in the presence of police detectives.

Prosecutors said Levy went with detectives to his meeting with Maodza, who allegedly demanded money from him.

It is the State’s case that Maodza was offered $700 but refused to be handed the money in Levy’s office and suggested to be given the money outside the office.

The State alleged that the conversation was recorded by CCTV in Levy’s office.

Maodza was arrested after detectives intercepted him before he was given the money.