SA lawyer arrested for ‘promoting’ homosexuality in Tanzania 'treated well'

2017-10-24 17:30
A protest in front of the Tanzanian embassy in Pretoria where activist are demanding the release of 13 people detained for promoting homosexuality. (Alex Mitchley)

A protest in front of the Tanzanian embassy in Pretoria where activist are demanding the release of 13 people detained for promoting homosexuality. (Alex Mitchley)

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Pretoria - One of the South African lawyers arrested last week for promoting homosexuality in Tanzania told her mother she was being treated well.

During a protest held at the Tanzanian High Commission in Pretoria on Tuesday, human rights lawyer Sibongile Ndashe's mother, Winnie Ndashe said her daughter had been in contact with her since her arrest and that she has everything she needs while being held in custody.

Ndashe, another South African lawyer and 11 others were arrested at the Peacock Hotel in Dar es Salaam by Tanzanian police last Tuesday.

READ: SA lawyers arrested in Tanzania for 'promoting homosexuality' being held 'illegally'

Tanzanian police held a press conference where they announced that the 13 people were arrested for promoting homosexuality, which is a violation of the Tanzanian law of forbidding same-sex relations.

Ndashe is in Tanzania working for Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), dealing with the closing down of HIV care centres.

"When I heard she was arrested I was worried but I have hope because God helps us.

"My daughter advocates for the freedom of other people so hearing that she was arrested while fighting for other people’s rights is something that worried me but I’m confident that she will be released because God is always there,'' said Winnie.

The 13 detainees have still not been charged.

ISLA and other organisations protested outside of the Tanzanian High Commission in Pretoria, where they held up banners condemning the arrests, the abuse of LGBTI rights and demanded that all of the detainees are released.


ISLA spokesperson Matilda Lasseko said the Tanzanian authority has been detaining Ndashe and others illegally as they have committed no crime.  

She demanded that they be released, handed their passports and be allowed to return home.  She said the arrests happened while ISLA was conducting meetings to challenge the government on their closure of the HIV centres.

Phumi Mthethwa of Masithandane Collective which was formed in December 2016 with the aim of mobilising communities in actively preventing violence based on hate- said the arrests under the guise of anti-homosexual laws was a scapegoat.

Mthethwa said Tanzania is persecuting human rights activists who were in the country demanding adequate healthcare for all its citizens.

News24 previously reported that the South African High Commissioner in Tanzania, Thami Mseleku, said the South African High Commission had been in contact with the Tanzanian police since the arrests.

Mseleku said he has personally met with the two South Africans, but had been asked by police to "give them space to complete investigations''.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) did not respond to a News24 request for comment and referred all enquiries to the South African High Commission.


Read more on:    dar es salaam  |  pretoria  |  east africa  |  lgbti rights

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