By IPS Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 29 2019 – IPS correspondent Erick Kabendera was reportedly arrested from his home in Mbweni, Dar es Salaam this afternoon by unknown men.
Kabendera who has been a correspondent reporting mostly on development issues for IPS since 2012, freelances as a journalist for local and international media.
Originally news of his arrest was unclear, with The Citizen newspaper reporting that 6 men claiming to be police officers who the paper reported refused to identify themselves, entered his home wanted to search it.
A colleague of Kabendera confirmed to IPS that the investigative journalist had been arrested.
“Police confirmed that he is in police custody for interrogation,” the source who did not want to be named stated.
According to @millardayo Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Mussa Taibu confirmed this:
Kamanda Jeshi la Polisi Kinondoni Mussa Taibu amesema ni kweli Jeshi la Polisi linamshikilia Mwandishi Erick Kabendera na yupo anahojiwa ila kuhusu kuachiwa itategemea baada ya kumaliza kumhoji.#MillardAyoUPDATES pic.twitter.com/fqMutqAgcf
— millardayo (@millardayo) July 29, 2019
However, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, “CPJ could not confirm that the journalist was detained by police. A call late today to the police inspector general Simon Sirro went unanswered.”
Meanwhile Kabendera’s colleague stated he had no knowledge of the charges against Kabendera but said that police have said they would release him after the interrogation and after Kabendera’s residence was searched.
The source said that he was unable to reach Kabendera’s family by phone but had been told by others who had gone to the family home after hearing the news that his family were safe. It was reported by The Citizen that Kabendera’s and his wife’s cell phones were confiscated by the men and that the house line had reportedly been severed.
When asked what he thought the charges against Kabendera are, the source stated, “No one knows. Though it is well known that he is an investigative journalist working as a freelancer both locally and internationally. It’s also of my view that it may be connected to the relationship he has with some politicians who are not in good standing with the government.”
CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo said: ”Authorities must immediately disclose if they are holding Erick Kabendera, and for what reason, and ensure the journalist is returned safely to his family.”
Kabendera wasn’t afraid to include his byline on controversial stories, including one outlining the clampdown of the press in Tanzania.
On his Twitter feed he reposted a tweet where the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet explained that “journalism is a profession which depends on kindness. The kindness of strangers who open their hearts and their homes to us.”
The BBC’s chief international correspondent @bbclysedoucet explains why kindness is so important to journalism.
These aren’t just words I‘ve been lucky to be the recipient of hers first hand. pic.twitter.com/z93AB758RC
— Megha Mohan (@meghamohan) July 29, 2018
In May, he told IPS editor Nalisha Adams that he had returned to school and was completing his MA in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics.
IPS has registered a strong protest against the abduction of one of its journalists. We are expecting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and human rights organisations worldwide to join us in a joint appeal for Kabendera’s safe return. Meanwhile, the IPS family extends its support for his family in this hour of need.
In solidarity Kabendera’s colleagues at IPS from across Africa and the globe have said this:
Nalisha Adams, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: We are concerned and would like details to be made public about the reasons for Erick Kabendera’s arrest. We call for transparency in the process.
Albert Oppong-Ansah, ACCRA, Ghana: I join my friends around the world to urge authorities to release Erick Kabendera. Please give him a fair hearing. Journalism is not a crime!
Isaiah Esipisu, NAIROBI, Kenya: I join colleagues around Africa and the world to call for the release of Erick Kabendera.
Aimable Twahirwa, KIGALI, Rwanda: The arrest of Erick Kabendera, an award-winning international journalist in Dar es Salaam raises concerns about the security of journalists questioning rights abuse. #standwitherickkabendera
Desmond Brown, KINGSTON, Jamaica: This act of cowardice is yet another effort to stifle the free press and to silence journalists as they do their job. Erick has been a standard bearer in Tanzania, digging into murky depths in search of truth and fulfilling his role as a guardian of democracy, honesty and integrity. I join with the rest of my colleagues in calling for his immediate release.