Top Tanzanian journalist arrested

Police in Tanzania say top investigative journalist Erick Kabendera was forcefully arrested at his home on Monday afternoon because he declined to come in for questioning.

At a press conference in Dar es Salaam, the city’s police chief Lazaro Mambosasa, said Mr Kabendera had refused to comply with a letter asking him to report to police.

The police commander was vague about why the journalist was wanted for questioning, saying it was to do with his work and “identity”.

The incident has caused upset in the East African nation where the hashtag #FreeErickKabendera has been trending all day.

According to the East African newspaper, before he was taken into custody Vodacom was ordered by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to jam his line.#FreeErickKabendera poster from Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)

His phone and that of his wife were also confiscated, the Citizen reported.

Since President John Magafuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, came to office in 2015, laws overseeing the media have been toughened.

The BBC’s Eagan Sala in Dar es Salaam says there have also been a spat of abductions in the last few years.

The most high-profile was journalist Azory Gwanda, who is still missing after his abduction on 21 November 2017 by several men in a 4×4 in Kibiti district.

At the time of his disappearance he had been investigating the killings of local government leaders and police officers in eastern Tanzania.

Other cases include opposition activist Mdude Nyangali, who has been critical of the government. He was taken by unidentified men and beaten up over three days in May this year.

Last week, Leopold Kweyamba Lwabaje, a top finance ministry official went missing for three days. He was found dead on Sunday close to his home.

Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji was also kidnapped and held for 10 days in 2018 – his family later said a ransom was paid for his release.