Prominent lawyer gets death threats over blog

Chinyoka said the men, who visited his offices in Harare, said he must stop writing negatively about Sharpe.

Prominent lawyer Tinomuda Chinyoka says he was threatened with death by men claiming to represent businessman Ken Sharpe, who wanted him to stop publishing a blog that exposes alleged corruption by the WestProp owner.

Chinyoka said the men, who visited his offices in Harare, said he must stop writing negatively about Sharpe.

He made the disclosure in letter to the businessman’s lawyer Stanford Moyo of Scanlen & Holderness in response to a previous letter demanding that he retracts his articles and apologise for the alleged defamatory statements.

Chinyoka has been publishing a series of articles headlined: The Chronicles of Ken Sharpe, Builder of Dubai in Zimbabwe, on his blog where he exposes alleged corrupt land deals by Sharpe and his associates.

On March 8, Moyo wrote to the lawyer demanding the retraction of the alleged “false, reckless, and highly defamatory” articles.

Chinyoka insisted that he was only reproducing and publishing material that is already in the public domain and he did not add his opinion.

“Before replying to the letter in the detail that is meets, I should point out that besides reading your letter on the weekend, I also had a visit from certain gentlemen claiming to be bearing a friendly warning to leave Ken Sharpe alone,” Chinyoka wrote.

“They referenced that he was their long-standing employer and that I was too small to be trying to bother Mr Ken Sharpe when others have tried and failed.

“They, like you, used the phrase ‘you represent Katsimberis’ who has, according to them tried to bring ‘Mr. Ken Sharpe’ down without success.”

Chinyoka is the lawyer representing land developer George Katsimberis in a long dispute with Sharpe and his company, Pokugara Properties.

“In what can only be a threat to my life, these gentlemen pointed out that I was ‘totally exposed’ because Mr Ken Sharpe knows that no one stands with me, and no one would care if anything happens to me because ‘who really is on your side,” he added.

He said they gave an example of former Harare East MP Tendai Biti whom they said was fighting Sharpe, “but at least has the protection of the Americans should anything happen to him.”

“Several times in the largely onside conversation names of politicians and rich businessmen were mentioned as being friends with ‘Mr Ken Sharpe’ in a way that looked like name-dropping and deflecting,” Chinyoka wrote.

“While it is not possible to conclude, from these gentlemen's words and conduct, that they were sent by your clients, it is also hard to think of anyone that benefits from conduct so clearly calculated and targeted at scaring me off The Chronicles than your clients.”

He said he said he would not be intimidated by the threats and quoted a Bible verse, Proverbs 28:1 that says: "The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

Moyo had said Chinyoka’s blog accused Sharp and his Augur Investments of corruption.

He said the articles claimed that Augur was merely a conduit and a front to "siphon" wealth from Harare in a looting spree and that there was no independent valuation of the land, which was handed over to Augur as payment for construction of Airport Road.

He said the blog also said Augur did not deliver its part of the bargain on the Airport Road and that it did not invest anything in Sunshine Developments (Private) Limited), a joint venture company between Harare City Council and yet took transfer of over 800 hectares of land had been transferred to it.

Moyo said Chinyoka also insinuated that Sharpe acquired wealth through corrupt means, which he said was aided and abetted by the City of Harare.

Moyo also wanted Chinyoka to seek Sharpe’s response before publishing any future articles.

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