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.