Cape writer freed on threat charge

A botched charge sheet on Friday led to the acquittal of a journalist who in May allegedly threatened to blow up the Cape Town premises of Radio Heart if his grievances were not aired.

David Robert Lewis (39) appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court before magistrate Phindi Norman, who said she would give a proper judgement later if required.

Lewis’s hearing was a sequel to an incident on May 24, when he entered Radio Heart’s premises in a highly agitated state and demanded to speak to the news editor.

In an affidavit to his attorney, Mike Jennings, Lewis said a story he had written about a black musician (not involving Radio Heart) had been rejected due to alleged racism. This had caused him to file a case alleging discrimination with the Labour Court.

He said he had wanted to speak to Radio Heart’s news editor about the Labour Court case, but ended up with news anchor Zulpha Khan, who had refused to go on air with his story.

The charge sheet in the case initially alleged assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, but was later changed to alleged ”assault by threat”. Lawyers who did not want to be named said the charge should have alleged intimidation.

Norman said the charge sheet as it stood alleged that Lewis had assaulted Khan by threatening to ”blow up everything and the place”.

However, Khan’s version was that Lewis had said he would ”blow the place up with machine guns”.

Norman said the testimony of Khan, the alleged victim, did not support the charge that Lewis had threatened to blow up ”everything and the place”.

He agreed with Jennings that whatever Lewis had said, it could not have created an immediate danger, and that for this reason there was no case for Lewis to meet.

When the police arrived, Khan had in fact told them that she was not even certain whether she had wanted to lay a charge, Norman said. — Sapa

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