SA writer in ‘Rushdie attack’ gets psychiatric treatment

2015-04-12 15:00

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“I hate being here. It’s torturous,” said author ZP Dala from hospital last night.

She had voluntarily checked herself into a Durban hospital with psychiatric facilities four days earlier and was being treated for post-traumatic stress syndrome, a distressed Dala told City Press late last night.

The decision was made with her husband, the writer said. Reports on Saturday said Dala had been confined to a “mental institution” to “avoid intense and intrusive harassment at her home”.

The author made the news last month after she was assaulted while attending the Time of the Writer festival in Durban.

She had told an audience she admired Salman Rushdie’s writing style – while discussing how she was influenced by a range of authors.

Her publishers, Umuzi, explained Dala was later followed from the festival’s hotel and harassed by three men in a vehicle, who pushed her car off the road.

When she stopped, two of the men advanced to her car, one holding a knife to her throat and the other hitting her in the face with a brick, while calling her “Rushdie’s bitch”.

Rushdie is vilified by Muslims around the world for his book The Satanic Verses and lives under a fatwa – or death warrant – first issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran in 1989.

Dala said that, since the incident, she was subject to intense community pressure from fellow Muslims to “make maaf” – apologise publicly and be visibly repentant.

“They want to silence me, so I’ll fade into the background,” she said.

Dala, who added she was on a cocktail of calming drugs, added: “Home will be better for healing.”

She said she had been promised intensive psychotherapy but it had not been forthcoming. She is a psychologist by training.

An associate said her family felt it was better that she be treated, as the episode had been very stressful for her. Dala said she wanted to return home to her husband, daughter (7) and son (3), but said nurses had told her only a “designated adult” could help her be discharged.

A friend of the family, Lubna Nadvi, tweeted that she spoke to Dala’s husband, Elias, who confirmed she was “not admitted to any mental institution”.

Last night Dala rebuked people posting contradictory messages about her on Twitter, tweeting: “What are these close friends in Durban saying? Because I have none.”

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