Ex-Witness editor free to leave Tanzania
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.