SA journalist held in Tanzania
THE SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has called on the government to set up a full investigation into the arrest of South African journalist Angela Quintal at her hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
On Wednesday, the former Mail & Guardian editor sent an SOS message on her Facebook and Twitter accounts that she and her colleague Muthoki Mumo, both working for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), had been taken for interrogation.
Both posts were deleted and Quintal’s social media accounts were deactivated.
Independent analyst Mary Papaya said: “What transpired in Tanzania has been shocking and very worrying. We are going to ask that Dirco launch a full investigation.
“Angela and her colleague were held for more than four hours in detention and their passports were removed. We are not sure why they were detained. That is something we would like to know,” said Papaya.
Officers who identified themselves as working with the Tanzanian immigration authority detained Quintal and Mumo in their hotel room. The officials searched the pair’s belongings and took their passports.
They were escorted from the hotel and taken to an unknown location. The two were in the country on a CPJ reporting mission.
Tanzania President John Magufuli has been accused of fostering a climate of fear in his country.
Magufuli’s government has cracked down on opposition parties, passed legislation curbing free speech online, and has recently threatened to “hunt down and arrest homosexuals”.
Papaya said the events called for stricter ways of protecting media freedom and journalists in Africa.
“Another worrying aspect is that their social media accounts were deactivated. It doesn’t go well for any journalist wanting to work freely and fairly when these kind of actions occur.
“There is an attack on media freedom, it is a scary trend. If we look at what happened in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and other parts of Africa, we need to call for vigilance,” said Papaya.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) confirmed late on Wednesday that the two had received their travelling documents and had been released to their hotel.
International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had asked the South African High Commissioner in Tanzania, Thami Mseleku, to gather all facts around their detention.
Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said they did not know the reason behind the detention or how their social media accounts had been deactivated.