The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) is concerned by International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s ‘defence’ of what it calls “the high-handed actions of the Tanzanian government”.
At a press briefing on Monday, Sisulu said media activist Angela Quintal and her Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) colleague Muthoki Mumo should have travelled to the East African country on a work visa. According to the minister, the pair had travelled on visitors permits and were subsequently detained for interrogation by Tanzanian immigration officials.
Sanef, however, does not believe this was the full story. According to a statement released on Wednesday, Sanef said Quintal and Mumo were not interrogated by immigration officials, but by intelligence agents.
These agents, Sanef claims, “were abusive at times, slapping and shoving Mumo.”
“Their ordeal points to growing repression in Tanzania and increasing hostility against media practitioners,” Sanef said.
“Sisulu should distance South Africa from such high-handed, unacceptable treatment. Some serious transgressions allegedly took place, and we encourage Sisulu to not cover up, but investigate further to establish the full picture.”
Quintal later explained that CPJ “never travels undercover” in an article detailing her experience.
According to Quintal, she and Mumo had embarked on a 10-day visit to Tanzania from the end of October to meet journalists, human rights activists and politicians in Tanzania.
Sanef said the two were also looking into the disappearance of investigative journalist Avory Gwanda.
Minister Sisulu has not responded to Sanef’s claims.