Zanzibar: Confusion surrounds alleged abduction of ZMMI employees


What you need to know:

  • The incident has sparked confusion, with conflicting accounts from the company, the police, and the Zanzibar Liquor Control Board.

Unguja. Three employees from ZMMI were on Tuesday, April 2, reportedly abducted from their office in Migombani and taken to an unknown location.

The incident has sparked confusion, with conflicting accounts from the company, the police, and the Zanzibar Liquor Control Board.

According to the managing director, Mr Saleh Said, the incident occurred at around 6:00pm when a group of over 20 unidentified men arrived in a pickup truck and ordered the employees to close the store due to Ramadan.

"We have been operating during Ramadan for all these years, and we have never been asked to close," Saleh said.

"When I was called, I told the employees to ask for identification, but they refused and started beating them with tasers. They closed the store and took them away."

The employees reported the incident at the Madema Police Station at 8:00pm and a case of kidnapping was filed (RB number 1390-2024). Police visited the store and reviewed CCTV footage.

"The police called all stations to inquire about any ongoing operations related to the matter, but they were told there was no such thing," Saleh said. "The whereabouts of the employees remained unknown."

After further investigation, the police instructed the employees to return to the Madema Central Police Station, where the individuals were later brought in.

"They were brought lying face down in the pickup truck," Saleh said. "Upon arrival at the police station, they were put under guard and there was pressure to put them in jail, but the police refused."

"We are grateful to the police for intervening," Saleh added. "They were released at around mid-night. Without the police's efforts, we might not have seen them again. We still don't know who carried out this act."

He said that as a result, ZMMI has decided to close the business for fear of further attacks, and they have filed a case of assault and kidnapping.

The Acting Regional Police Commander for Mjini Magharibi initially confirmed the abduction but later clarified that the employees were taken by the Liquor Control Board during an operation.

"No one was abducted, although the initial reports said so," the commander said. "They were taken by the Liquor Licensing Board because, as you know, selling alcohol is not allowed during Ramadan. They have since been released."

However, Juma Chum, the Chairman of the Zanzibar Liquor Licensing Board, denied knowledge of the incident when contacted.

The conflicting accounts have left many questions unanswered. The identities of the perpetrators, the motive for the abduction, and the involvement of the Liquor Control Board remains unclear.