THE controversial Muslim leader, Ponda Issa Ponda, has been admitted at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam for emergency treatment -- under police custody.
Ponda, who was on police wanted list, was reportedly injured on his shoulder on Saturday night after police opened fire as he was attempting to escape arrest in Morogoro municipality. Police Spokesperson SSP Advera Senso confirmed to the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam on Sunday that Ponda was under arrest and admitted at the MNH.
He described his condition as 'stable'. "It is true that he is now under police custody at Muhimbili where he is undergoing treatment for the wound he sustained during an attempt to arrest him on Saturday," she said.
In an earlier statement, Ms Senso said that a police team, led by Commissioner of Police Issaya Mngulu from the police headquarters has been tasked to investigate the matter to find out the circumstances under which he was shot.
"The police force calls upon the people to remain calm while the matter is being legally handled," she said. Explaining the Saturday's drama, Ms Senso noted that on the day in question, there was a workshop held at Kiwanja cha Ndege Primary School grounds in Morogoro Municipality where Sheikh Ponda arrived in the late hours of the day and greeted the Muslims present.
"There was an Idd-el-Fitr Baraza held by an association of Muslim preachers at Kiwanja cha Ndege Primary School in Morogoro Municipality where Ponda arrived ten minutes before it closed and talked briefly to the congregation," she said.
She explained that the forum, which started at around 2pm, was closed at around 6pm where people started dispersing, some of them shielding a small car that carried Sheikh Ponda. "After moving from the grounds, the police put up a road block in an attempt to arrest Sheikh Ponda who was on the police wanted list for allegedly instigating chaos in various places in the country," she elaborated.
Ms Senso further noted that Ponda's followers had then stopped the police from arresting him and started throwing stones, forcing the police to open fire on air to disperse them. "In the ensuing chaos, Ponda's supporters were able to escape with him.
At the moment Ponda is in Muhimbili Hospital where he is undergoing treatment of the injury he is believed to have sustained during the confrontation," she said. A survey conducted at the MNH showed that the situation was calm and activities there went on as usual.
A man who identified himself as Ponda's cousin, Isihaka Rashid, told the 'Daily News' at the hospital that his relative was rushed there by family and friends.
He noted that a PF3 form was acquired from the Selander Bridge Police Post in the late hours of Saturday which gave Ponda a go ahead to see doctors at Muhimbili Hospital. He noted further that X-ray images showed that Ponda's arm had sustained several fractures and that he underwent minor surgery to remove the bullet pieces remaining.
He confirmed Saturday's reports that the cleric had been rushed to the Morogoro Regional Hospital for treatment but people escorting him to the hospital sneaked him to escape the police dragnet.
An arrest warrant was early in the week issued for the arrest of Sheikh Ponda on allegations of incitement in Zanzibar. The order was issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ponda is on a one-year suspended sentence relating to the destruction of property with a condition not to commit any offence in the meantime.