Zimbabwean journalist, Basildon Peta arrested in Lesotho
POLICE in Lesotho this week arrested Zimbabwean journalist, Basildon Peta, on charges of tax fraud involving more than R1 million.
Peta, who is based in South Africa, publishes newspapers in Lesotho.
While details of his case were still sketchy, sources in South Africa and Lesotho told the Financial Gazette that Peta was arrested on Sunday in Maseru and spent a night in police cells before appearing in court on Monday where the case was deferred to yesterday.
Yesterday the case was further postponed to Friday.
If found guilty, the veteran journalist faces the risk of being jailed.
The arrest in Lesotho is the latest of Peta’s mounting legal headaches, as it is understood that the no nonsense South African Revenue Services is also investigating his activities in South Africa.
His assets in South Africa are at risk of sequestration after the Gauteng division of the High Court of South Africa last October ordered him to re-pay US$120 000 which was advanced to his company by an American media support non-governmental organisation, Media Development Investment Fund Inc (MDIF).
All in all, Peta’s company, Africa Media Holding, which owns Free State Times, received more than US$1,4 million in loans from the American outfit.
Ever since these several loans became due in 2012, Peta and his company have been unable to repay, resulting in the ruling against him.
Peta — who once worked as a journalist at the Financial Gazette as well as being a former secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalist — left Zimbabwe in 2001, claiming that his life was in grave danger from President Robert Mugabe’s government.
However, details emerged later that in fact he had been dismissed from his job because the newspaper was having serious problems with the authenticity of most of his stories.
It is from his claim of his life being threatened at home that Peta managed to repeatedly dip into the MDIF, until the relationship went sour over his failure to repay the loans.
Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette