Cops in $20 000 extortion scam

HARARE - Two police officers, who were at large for allegedly conniving with a night club owner to extort money from Israeli businessman Gilad Shabtai, finally appeared in court yesterday.

Victor Makoni, 30, and Richard Majome, 28, who are sergeant and constable respectively, appeared before magistrate Tendai Mahwe facing extortion charges.

 The two allegedly connived with Edmore Zviitwa, who runs Kebbab Night Club in Harare.

Zviitwa is out on bail. Another accomplice is still at large.

The court heard Zviitwa sent Makoni and Majome together with their accomplice to Meikles Hotel where Shabtai was booked.

 Upon arrival, the court heard Makoni and Majome introduced themselves as police officers, while the other said he was a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official.

According to State papers, the three were escorted to Shabtai’s room by a Meikles attendant.

The cops allegedly accused Shabtai of failing to pay his workers and threatened to close his Chegutu mine.

They allegedly demanded $20 000 from Shabtai, before threatening him with detention if he failed to pay the money.

Shabtai, the court heard, advised his friend Jacob Shwarts, who was booked in the same hotel, to call Zviitwa to come and assist him.

Zviitwa took the three aside purporting to negotiate and later told Shabtai that they had agreed to reduce the amount to $12 000, the court heard.

According to State papers, Zviitwa offered to help Shabtai since he had no money in person.

The following day, Zviitwa allegedly lied to Shabtai that he had paid the money to the “cops” and wanted his refund.

Shabtai gave Zviitwa $1 000 as a token of appreciation, according to State papers.

Shabtai became suspicious of the purported police officers and Zimra official and filed a police report leading to Zviitwa’s arrest.

The cops were later arrested after police investigations.

Magistrate Mahwe released the cops on a $100 bail each.

They will be back in court on February 1. - Ivan Zhakata

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