African Union youth ambassador Malaika Mahlatsi, better known as known as Malaika wa Azania, has not been arrested but is being held at a Moroccan airport.
It is alleged that she tried to enter the country without a Visa. Malaika (21), who describes herself as an activist, "a pan-Afrikanist Socialist" and a writer, left South Africa on Monday 6 October, travelling to Morocco as South Africa's delegate to the African Union's youth charter.
Social media is abuzz with news that she has been detained and even refused food and water, with #FreeMalaika trending on Twitter. But South Africa's head of public diplomacy Clayson Monyela rubbished the claims. "Compatriots @MalaikaWaAzania is not arrested in Morocco. She is being held at the airport... no visa to enter. We are talking to them," he tweeted. "Our people are dealing with it. Malaika Mahlatsi hasn't been arrested."
Her mom, Dipuo Mahlatsi posted on Facebook yesterday that Malaika, who is the author of the book Memoirs of a Born free: Reflections on the Rainbow Nation, had been detained by authorities upon her arrival at Mohamed V International Airport in Cassablanca, Morroco.
"She is still in detention at this stage, I do not know the reasons for her detention and the exact location in Casablanca, where she is detained. I only got to learn of her detention today, nearly 24hrs after the fact. I was also informed that she is not allowed to make calls to anyone.
"The uncertainty surrounding her detention and the need to inform her comrades and friends has compelled me to issue this brief statement."
Her mom later posted a text message from Monyela. Mahlatsi had lashed out at Monyela for saying Malaika did not have the correct travel document. "After my last post about Mr Clayson Monyela saying untruths about my daughter being detained for not having proper documents to enter Morocco, I got an sms from Mr Clayson Monyela that read thus: "Your daughter does have some UN documents and says they were told visas would be issued upon arrival in Morocco. So far, authorities are not budging, we'll keep trying. Otherwise, they'll be on the plane back home tomorrow".
Mahlatsi has now thanked the department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco). "I thank Mr Monyela for doing right by her as this will also vindicate her to those who are saying that she is either being too forward or that this is a publicity stunt to sell her book that is already doing well.
"History will judge you kindly, sir. When George Orwell said 'In time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act', he had you in mind. I'd like to thank everybody for their messages of support during this time. I should state that, Dirco is working very hard to secure her safe return home and for that, I'm eternally grateful.
"However, I want to clarify what Mr Clayson Monyela is saying on Twitter about Malaika being detained for travelling without proper documents. Those of you who know Malaika will attest to the fact that there is NO truth to that post that has gone viral.
"I do not know the state Mr Monyela was in when he made the post, will not know and quiet frankly, do not even want to know. It cannot be true because AU is responsible for the itinerary of its deployees... from letters of invitations right down to accommodation bookings and she is in Morocco on AU deployment. I'm just a distraught parent and not Malaika's spokesperson so, we'll wait for her version of events."