SA jour­nal­ist held in Tan­za­nia

Pretoria News - - NATION - MARY JANE MPHAHLELE mary­jane.mphahlele@inl.co.za

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.

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