The Herald assistant news editor Takunda Maodza who is accused of blackmailing the director of Sam Levy Village, Mr Isaac Levy into giving him money not to publish a news article incriminating him as a supporter of the People First political party led by Joyce Mujuru, has been remanded out of custody to November 25 on $50 bail.
Mr Levy allegedly offered Maodza $700. Maodza (35) appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe charged with attempted extortion as defined in the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.
Maodza’s lawyer Mr Clemence Takaendesa of Charamba and Partners law firm advised the court that on November 25 he will make an application for refusal of further remand on the basis of lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the charge.
Maodza has not yet been asked to present his defence outline.
Prosecutor, Ms Sharon Mashavira alleged that on November 3 around 3pm, Maodza went to Sam Levy Village where he approached the head of security, Mr Charles Kapfupi (56) and asked to see Mr Levy.
It is alleged that Mr Kapfupi left Maodza with Mr Levy in his office and that Maodza then introduced himself as a journalist from The Herald who wanted to know if it was true that Mr Levy supported People First, a political project reportedly led by Joyce Mujuru and Didymus Mutasa and asked if Mr Levy had been approached by People First to be the treasurer of the project. Mr Levy denied the allegations.
The court heard that 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.”
It is alleged that Maodza then told Mr Levy that if he did not give him money he was going to publish the story in The Herald.
The court heard that Mr Levy scrutinised the letter and discovered that the letterhead and the signatures were fake.
Maodza allegedly indicated that he got it from a reliable source and that Mutasa had already confirmed the story.
It is the State’s case that Maodza kept calling Mr Kapfupi on his mobile number using The Herald office landline asking to see Mr Levy and indicating that the matter had serious implications on Mr Levy if published and it would be in his best interests to consider blocking the publication by seeking favour from Maodza.
Mr Levy allegedly phoned Maodza and denied authoring the letter but Maodza is said to have insisted that he had verified the document with Mutasa.
It is the State’s case that Mr Levy asked to meet Maodza at Sam Levy’s Village and further alleged that this telephone conversation was done in the presence of police detectives. Allegations are that Mr Levy went with detectives to his meeting with Maodza, who allegedly demanded money from Mr Levy and is said to have not mentioned the amount he wanted.
It is the State’s case that Maodza was offered $700 but refused to be handed the money in Mr Levy’s office and suggested to be given the money outside the office.
The State alleged that the conversation was recorded by a Closed-circuit television (CCTV) in Mr Levy’s office.
Maodza was arrested after detectives intercepted him before he was given the money.