SA rights lawyer ‘held hostage’ in Tanzania
ACCLAIMED South African human rights lawyer Sibongile Ndashe said she and 11 others were “held hostage” by Tanzanian officials following their arrest in that country.
Ndashe told journalists that she and another South African were among a group of 12 human rights activists “unlawfully arrested” for what that country’s government has termed “promoting homosexuality”.
They were not charged with a crime.
Ndashe and her colleague were deported from Tanzania at the weekend after their release from prison in Dar es Salaam.
They were arrested while preparing for a case to challenge the government’s decision to close drop-in centres that serve people at risk of contracting HIV.
Ndashe said they had been informed that they were under police surveillance before their arrest. “We have been working in Tanzania for the past three years. This is work that started to find ways of holding the state accountable for various human rights violations.
“Everyone who was involved knew that what had happened was unlawful and that our detention was illegal, in fact, we were held hostage at a police station. No one could say why we were there. The South African authorities kept on trying to get information from their counterparts. The Tanzanian officials constantly failed to provide them with information.”
She said the work they were doing was legitimate under the Tanzanian constitution.