Ex-Wit­ness ed­i­tor free to leave Tan­za­nia

The Witness - - NEWS -

THE travel doc­u­ments of for­mer Mail & Guardian and Wit­ness ed­i­tor An­gela Quin­tal and a Kenyan col­league Muthoki Mumo have been re­turned by the Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment, the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co­op­er­a­tion (Dirco) has con­firmed.

“The High Com­mis­sioner of South Africa in Tan­za­nia, Mr Thami Mseleku, has in­formed the Min­is­ter of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, Lindiwe Sisulu that pass­ports of a South African jour­nal­ist and that of her Kenyan col­league have been re­turned,” a Dirco state­ment said yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

Mseleku had been in­structed by Min­is­ter Sisulu to gather all facts around their de­ten­tion and re­port back by the end of the day.

The pair were de­tained on Wed­nes­day night by Tan­za­nian au­thor­i­ties and re­leased in the early hours of yes­ter­day morn­ing. The rea­son for their ar­rest was un­clear.

“Fol­low­ing meet­ings with the Tan­za­nian au­thor­i­ties this morn­ing the high com­mis­sioner has in­di­cated that the two jour­nal­ists are now free to leave Tan­za­nia,” the depart­ment con­tin­ued.

“The min­is­ter thanked high com­mis­sioner Mseleku, the team at the Dirco 24-hour call cen­tre, diplo­mats from Kenya and Tan­za­nia for re­solv­ing the mat­ter speed­ily.

“We are happy that this mat­ter has been re­solved, the two jour­nal­ists have their pass­ports and they can travel to­day,” Sisulu said.

Sisulu added that South Africans trav­el­ling abroad should make sure they know the num­ber of Dirco’s 24-hour call cen­tre — 012 351 1000 — and the ad­dresses of the South African em­bassies in all coun­tries where the coun­try is rep­re­sented.

Quin­tal is Africa pro­gramme co-or­di­na­tor at the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists (CPJ), and Muthoki Mumo is CPJ’s sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The South African Na­tional Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum mean­while said it was “deeply dis­turbed” about the “wor­ry­ing de­ten­tion”.

“Af­ter ap­prox­i­mately five hours, Quin­tal and Mumo were then re­turned to their Dar es Salaam ho­tel, at around 3 am — but with­out their pass­ports.

“De­tails and rea­sons for the de­ten­tion are still not clear. Also, it is un­clear whether Tan­za­nian au­thor­i­ties have taken Quin­tal’s phone. A num­ber of her so­cial me­dia pro­files [had] been de­ac­ti­vated,” said Sanef.

Sanef also wel­comed the speedy probe into the mat­ter by Dirco and called on them to ex­ert pres­sure on their Tan­za­nian coun­ter­parts.

“We need to ur­gently find out the rea­sons be­hind this de­ten­tion. We be­lieve the ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion of jour­nal­ists is a di­rect and dan­ger­ous threat to me­dia free­dom and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion,” the fo­rum said.

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