Freelancer Erick Kabendera was reportedly arrested from his home in Mbweni, Dar es Salaam, Tanziana yesterday 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, including The Guardian.
This morning, another colleague, who spoke to IPS on the condition of anonymity stated that while rumours had circulated yesterday that Kabendera had been abducted, this was not the case.
“He is being held by the police for interrogation. It was rumoured on Monday that he had been abducted by unknown people. Police in Dar es Salaam have confirmed that he is being held at the Central Police station. No details so far. Updates will follow.”
A call to Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa by IPS was cut off this morning and subsequent calls did not connect.
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 wanting to search it.
Another colleague of Kabendera confirmed to IPS last night 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 also.
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 was 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.”
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.”
On Kabendera’s 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.”
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 called for his release and transparency in the process.