Southern Africa: Police, CSOs Differ On 'Hotel Arrest' of SADC Activists

Dar es Salaam — There were conflicting reports yesterday about reported 'hotel detention' of some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) members, who planned to attend the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit.

The activists said to be from Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa, were planning to raise their voice on several issues at the meeting which ends today.

Tanzania Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (TCHRD) Coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa issued a statement, saying 48 members of CSOs have been barred from leaving their hotels to attend the summit.

The statement indicates that the police feared that the CSOs members would disrupt the summit. Mr Olengurumwa said police claimed that they found the activists with placards in remembrance of miners, who were killed during the Marikana massacre in South Africa.

"Civil Society delegates from Zimbabwe and South Africa, who are currently in Tanzania have found themselves under police scrutiny allegedly for security reason."

Their scrutiny follows security concerns raised yesterday (Friday) by the police with regard to participation of CSOs to the summit," read the statement in part.

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Activists from South Africa commemorate the Marikana massacre in which more than 30 miners were shot dead and others injured in 2012 when police opened fire on them. during a strike.

According to TCHRD, lawyers followed up the reports and the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr Lazaro Mambosasa, confirmed the detention.

But, when contacted, Mr Mambosasa said he wasn't aware of the reports. He further said that he never spoke to anyone about the claims.

"I can only speak about suspects who are in police cells. If you want to know about people, who are in hotels you should ask hoteliers and not us (police)," said Mr Mambosasa in a telephone interview with The Citizen.

Heads of state and governmentsfrom 16 SADC member countires are expected to conclude their two-day summit today in Dar es Salaam.

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