SA jour­nal­ist de­tained in Tan­za­nia

Ed­i­tors’ fo­rums slam ‘lat­est at­tack on press free­dom in that coun­try’


ME­DIA prac­ti­tion­ers have slammed the de­ten­tion of two jour­nal­ists in Tan­za­nia for about five hours in what is seen as the lat­est at­tack on press free­dom in that coun­try.

The African Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum (TAEF) and the South African Na­tional Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum (Sanef) have called on the gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a full-blown in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ar­rest of South African jour­nal­ist An­gela Quin­tal at her ho­tel in Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia.

On Wed­nes­day, the for­mer Mer­cury and Mail & Guardian ed­i­tor sent out an SOS mes­sage on both her Face­book and Twit­ter ac­counts that she and her col­league, Muthoki Mumo, who both work for the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists (CPJ), had been taken for in­ter­ro­ga­tion.

Both posts were deleted and Quin­tal’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts were de­ac­ti­vated.

Her sis­ter, Genevieve Quin­tal, yes­ter­day said she was not com­ment­ing on the is­sue yet, and all com­mu­ni­ca­tions had to be made through the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co-op­er­a­tion (Dirco) and Sanef.

The two were ar­rested at their ho­tel and de­tained for more than five hours and, once re­leased, they were not im­me­di­ately given their pass­ports.

“Me­dia free­dom is a ba­sic hu­man right as well as an in­dis­pens­able con­stituent of democ­racy in ev­ery African coun­try. Cit­i­zens in all African states will not be free un­til all me­dia on the con­ti­nent are free.

“The na­tions of Africa need a free me­dia to pro­vide them with in­for­ma­tion to en­able them to take an in­formed de­ci­sion about their lives.

“Gov­ern­ments across the con­ti­nent who have pledged to up­hold me­dia free­dom must walk the walk and stop ha­rass­ing and de­tain­ing jour­nal­ists and ed­i­tors for do­ing their work,” said TAEF chair­per­son Jovial Ran­tao.

Sanef said it was deeply dis­turbed to hear of Quin­tal and Mumo’s de­ten­tion. Quin­tal is a for­mer se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of Sanef.

“Sanef be­lieves th­ese are very wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ments. We need to ur­gently find out the rea­sons for this de­ten­tion.

“We be­lieve the ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion of jour­nal­ists is a di­rect and dan­ger­ous threat to me­dia free­dom and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion,” it said.

Dirco con­firmed late on Wed­nes­day that the women had even­tu­ally re­ceived their travel doc­u­ments and were al­lowed to re­turn to their ho­tel.

In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu has asked the High Com­mis­sioner of South Africa in Tan­za­nia, Thami Mse­leku, to gather all the facts about the de­ten­tions and re­port back.

Depart­ment spokesper­son Ndi­vhuwo Mabaya said the rea­son for the de­ten­tion was not known, nor was it clear how their so­cial me­dia ac­counts were de­ac­ti­vated.

“The depart­ment does not know why the two were de­tained. We also do not know who de­ac­ti­vated their so­cial me­dia ac­counts and why.

“We have in­structed the com­mis­sioner to gather the facts and re­port back,” said Ndi­vhuwo.

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