‘World’s Oldest’ Rhinoceros Dies At 57

A picture taken on December 27, 2019 shows Jacob, a 28 years old Black rhinoceros in its enclosure in Pont-Scorff’s Zoo, western France. AFP


A black rhino believed to be the oldest in the world has died in Tanzania at the age of 57, according to authorities in Ngorongoro where the animal was living.

The female rhino, named Fausta, died of what is believed to be natural causes on December 27 in a sanctuary, after living most of her life in the wild, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority said in a statement on Saturday.

“Records show that Fausta lived longer than any rhino in the world and survived in the Ngorongoro, free-ranging, for more than 54 years” before she was moved to a sanctuary in 2016, said the statement.

“Fausta was first located in the Ngorongoro crater in 1965 by a scientist from the University of Dar Es Salaam, at the age between three and four years. Her health begun to deteriorate in 2016, when we were forced to put the animal in captivity, after several attacks from hyena and severe wounds thereafter,” it added.

Sana, a female southern white rhino, aged 55, was considered the world’s oldest white rhino when she died in captivity at the La Planete Sauvage Zoological park in France, in 2017.

Ngorongoro estimates the life expectancy of rhinos to be between 37 and 43 years in the wild, while they can live to over 50 in captivity.


Court Charges Rights Activist With Money Laundering


Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo


A Tanzanian court charged rights activist Tito Magoti with money laundering and other offences after holding him in custody for four days, the organisation for which he works said Tuesday.

Prosecutors in Kisuto court said Magoti and co-worker Theodory Giyan had been charged with leading organised crime, money laundering and possessing computer programmes designed for the purpose of committing crimes.

Both were being held in custody to await a January 7 hearing.

Magoti, of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), was arrested by plain-clothed officers who bundled him into an unmarked car on Friday, initially raising fears that he had been abducted.

Although Dar es Salaam regional police commander Lazaro Mambosasa confirmed his arrest, family and friends were unable to contact him until Tuesday’s court appearance.

A statement from the LHRC said the suspects were in good health but that Magoti appeared very tired.

They had been questioned about their relationship with fellow activists Maria Sarungi and Fatma Karume and with opposition politician Zitto Kabwe, the statement added.

“We are closely following the case and will provide legal representation,” said the LRHC.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) both denounced what they said was the deteriorating human rights situation in Tanzania in statements in late October.

They argued that since President John Magufuli came to power at the end of 2015, his administration has stepped up repressive action against the country’s news media, civil society, and the opposition.


Tanzania To Free 5,500 Inmates From Overcrowded Prisons

Tanzania Church Accuses Govt Of Harming Democracy
Tanzania’s newly elected President John Magufuli delivers a speech during the swearing in ceremony in Dar es Salaam. Daniel Hayduk / AFP


President John Magufuli on Monday ordered that around 5,500 inmates be freed from Tanzania’s overcrowded prisons at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the country’s independence from colonial rule.

The populist president, who has publicly expressed both sympathy and derision for the country’s prison population, announced the mass pardon at an event marking Tanzania’s national day.

“I believe this will relieve those who were jailed on minor charges, and those who were unable to have lawyers represent them or money to pay fines,” Magufuli said in Mwanza, a city on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“The pardon will also help to decongest our prisons.”

Magufuli, who came to power in 2015 as a corruption-fighting “man of the people”, has toured overcrowded prisons in the past and ordered authorities to free those being held for long stretches without trial.

Tanzania’s current prison population is around 36,000, the government says, with some facilities considerably over capacity.

In July, Magufuli said his visit to a jail in Mwanza left him “saddened” because many prisoners had languished there many years without trial.

But he also drew criticism from rights watchdogs in 2018 by ordering that prisoners be made to work “day and night” and suggesting they should grow their own food and be kicked if they are lazy.

Magufuli’s talent for high-profile appearances that bolster his reputation as a no-nonsense leader have made him wildly popular among some.

But his intolerance of criticism, impulsiveness and disregard for due process worry others who see authoritarianism at the core of his populism.

The United States and Britain in August expressed concern about the steady erosion of due process under his rule, pointing to a growing tendency of authorities to resort to lengthy pre-trial detentions.

Nicknamed “tingatinga” — meaning “bulldozer” in Swahili — Magufuli has cowed the press, and many of his political opponents are routinely arrested. Some opposition activists have been kidnapped and beaten.

For the first time since his election, the main opposition party, Chadema, attended the national day celebrations, sharing the stage with Magufuli.

Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe called for a return to democratic norms and freedom of expression in Tanzania, which goes to the polls next year to choose a president.

“Mr President, you have the chance to make history by rectifying all these challenges,” he said.

Chadema boycotted last month’s local elections, citing intimidation, handing the ruling party a sweeping victory in polls criticised by the international community as lacking credibility.

Magufuli, 60, has not said whether he will stand for re-election to what would be his second and final term.


Tanzania’s Opposition To Boycott Elections Over ‘Cheating’


Tanzania’s opposition party says it will boycott local elections later this month, accusing the government of impeding its candidates from running and making a mockery of democratic processes.

Chadema, the main opposition outfit that has faced increasing hostility under President John Magufuli, made the announcement late Thursday following an extraordinary meeting of its leadership.

“Our party believes it is wiser not to support such electoral cheating. To continue to participate in elections of this kind is to legitimise illegality,” said Chadema president Freeman Mbowe.

Selemani Jafo, the minister for local government, expressed surprise at the decision, adding there would be remedies for candidates who felt they had been wronged.

But Chadema accused electoral authorities of being complicit in scuttling their campaign efforts.

Mbowe said several Chadema candidates had been outright disqualified by electoral officials from running in the nationwide November 24 polls to choose local government leaders.

Others had found registration offices closed when they tried to apply or discovered their applications had been tampered with, he added.

Rights groups say the intimidation of political opponents has escalated sharply under Magufuli, a strongman elected in 2015 whose administration has wielded wide-ranging laws to silence government critics.

Police have broken up opposition gatherings and shut down Chadema meetings, the party says.

Their activists have been kidnapped and beaten, and at least one has blamed authorities for an attack in 2017 which saw him shot multiple times.

Several have disappeared and turned up murdered.

“Magufuli and his party are afraid. We are not going to participate in this charade,” Mbowe said of the upcoming elections.

The victors in the local polls form the political backbone for campaigning ahead of general elections slated for 2020.

Magufuli, whose nickname “tingatinga” means “bulldozer” in Swahili, is expected to run for another five-year term.

His rule has been marked by a democratic backslide in Tanzania, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a report last month.

Free media has been cowed by draconian cybercrime laws, critical newspapers and bloggers have been silenced, and opposition activists harassed unlawfully, the report stated.

Tanzania Court Prohibits Marrying Girls Under 18 Years


A picture of the Tanzanian flag


A Tanzanian court has upheld a law banning the marriage of girls under the age of 18 in a ruling praised by rights activists.

The High Court in 2016 ruled that laws allowing girls as young as 15 to be married with the permission of their parents, or even 14 with the permission of a court, were unconstitutional and discriminatory.

However the state had appealed the ruling.

“We reject this appeal as it has no foundation,” the appeals court judges wrote in their ruling on Wednesday.

In an initial ruling the court found the current law discriminatory, as the legal age for men to marry is 18, and said it was contradictory that a girl considered too young to vote would be allowed to marry.

“It is a great day for Tanzanian girls,” the NGO Wasichana Initiative, which fights for the rights of young girls, wrote on Twitter.

“It is a joyful day for all girls and all those who want what is best for them,” said Anna Henga of Tanzania’s main rights group, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).

On average, two out of five Tanzanian girls are married before their 18th birthday, according to government statistics.



Tanzanian President Backs Official Who Caned School Pupils


Tanzanian President John Magufuli has lauded a regional governor who caused outrage by caning 14 schoolchildren, saying he should have done more.

Footage of the punishment, which went viral on the internet, showed Albert Chalamila, governor of Mbeya in southern Tanzania, giving three strokes of the cane to each student, all of them stretched out on the ground.

They had violated a ban on having mobile phones in their school and are accused of burning down their dormitory in retaliation.

The punishment was administered in front of the students’ schoolmates, police officers and teachers and unleashed wide criticism on social media.

“I congratulate the regional commissioner for caning the students and that was actually not enough. He could do more,” the president said on Thursday during a visit to a neighbouring region.

“Some people are talking about human rights but there is no way we can afford having arrogant students like these. They can’t burn a dormitory just because their phones which are not allowed in schools were taken by teachers.

“I told the regional commissioner to suspend all students in that school and their parents must pay before the students are allowed back to school. Those who were directly involved should be taken to jail.”

Under a 1979 law, corporal punishment can only be administered by the school’s director, and only in the event of serious breaches. The punishment is administered by a light, flexible cane on the hand or buttocks.

Corporal punishment in schools flared into a national controversy last year after a 13-year-old boy in the northern province of Kagera died of injuries inflicted by his teacher.

Human Rights Watch, in February 2017, said corporal punishment in Tanzanian schools was widespread, frequently “brutal and humiliating” and called for it to be banned.

Man Drowns While Trying To Propose Underwater


An American man has drowned while proposing to his girlfriend underwater at an idyllic island off the coast of Tanzania, a luxury resort said in a statement Sunday.

His girlfriend Kenesha Antoine posted on her Facebook page footage of Steven Weber proposing to her through the window of their underwater hotel room at the luxury Manta Resort in Zanzibar.

“You never emerged from those depths so you never got to hear my answer, ‘Yes! Yes! A million times, yes, I will marry you!!’,” she wrote Friday in a post confirming his death.

Her video shows Weber swimming up to the window, and pressing a handwritten note against it which read: “I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you, but everything I love about you I love more every day. Will you please be my wife, marry me.”

He then pulled out a ring as Antoine squealed with joy while filming.

It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination.

“We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable,” Antoine wrote.

“Knowing him, always quick with an off-color joke, he’s probably entertaining someone with a story about how he royally screwed up that proposal and died while being extra.”

Manta CEO Matthew Saus confirmed to AFP in an email Sunday that “a male guest tragically drowned while freediving alone outside the underwater room” on Thursday.

“The accident is currently under investigation by the local Zanzibar police authority.”

The couple were staying in the resort’s famed “Underwater Room”, a $1,700 (1,500 euro) a-night floating structure offshore in crystal clear waters, where the bed is surrounded by glass windows looking into the ocean.

Tanzanian Arrested With Tusks From 117 Elephants

In this file photo taken on March 20, 2015 an elephant splashes at sunset in the waters of the Chobe river in Botswana Chobe National Park, in the north eastern of the country.


A Tanzanian man has been arrested after authorities found a stash of ivory buried under his house, estimated to come from around 117 elephants, authorities said Thursday.

The suspect, who had been sought by authorities since 2016, had in his possession 338 pieces of elephant tusk, and 75 whole tusks, the minister of natural resources, Hamisi Kigwangalla, said in a statement.

He was arrested along with seven alleged accomplices, and the tusks are believed to have come from Tanzania and Mozambique.

“Until his arrest on Tuesday, he was unable to move this stock, because we have become extremely vigilant,” said Kigwangalla.

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“I am giving a period of grace of one month for any person in possession of elephant tusks to hand them in to authorities without facing prosecution.”

Since 2016, around 1,000 poachers, some heavily armed, have been arrested in Tanzania whose elephant population plunged 60 percent between 2009 and 2014 due to poaching.

In February a Tanzanian court sentenced Chinese citizen Yang Fenlan — dubbed the “Ivory Queen” — to 15 years in jail for her role in trafficking tusks from more than 400 elephants.

Poaching has seen the population of African elephants fall by 110,000 over the past decade to just 415,000 animals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The slaughter is being fuelled especially by demand in Asia, where ivory is used for jewellery and ornamentation.

Xenophobia: House Of Reps To Consider Reconvening As Gbajabiamila Cuts Short Tanzania Trip

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, said that the green chamber may cut short their recess and reconvene to address the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa.

The Speaker also announced that he is cutting short his trip to Tanzania, where he is attending the 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) conference holding in Zanzibar.

Gbajabiamila disclosed his on his verified Twitter handle.

See his tweet below…

Death Toll From Tanzania Tanker Explosion Hits 100


A Tanzanian security officer controls the area where the carcass of a burnt out fuel tanker is seen along the side of the road following an explosion on August 10, 2019, AFP


The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania on August 10 hit 100 on Wednesday after several victims perished from severe burns.

Aminiel Aligaesha, a spokesman for the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, told reporters “two people died on Tuesday during the day, and another on Tuesday night”, bringing the total number of dead to 100.

Officials had put the tally at 95 on Sunday, and another two people were announced dead on Monday.

At least 30 of the victims died in the days after the accident, in which a fireball engulfed a crowd thronging to collect petrol from an overturned tanker near Morogoro, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

Officials said the explosion was triggered when a man tried to take the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel.

A doctor at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that most of those who survived the initial blast had suffered burns on over 80 per cent of their body.

“We are doing our best, but most of them are in critical condition,” said the doctor.

Many of the victims are motorbike taxi drivers who rushed to the scene to try to siphon off leaking petrol.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.

In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

In the worst tragedy, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, while in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.


71 Victims Of Tanzania Tanker Explosion Laid To Rest

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli talks to medical staff and victims of the Morogoro petrol tanker explosion, at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, on August 11, 2019. 


Tanzania on Sunday laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded.

The deadly blast, which took place Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.

President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He was represented at funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

Majaliwa spoke at a ceremony in Kola, less than 20 minutes from where the disaster occurred some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

READ ALSO: Death Toll Rises To 75 In Tanzania Fuel Tanker Explosion

He gave a new death toll of 71, along with 59 injured.

White coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers and tossed handfuls of earth on them.

A Pentecostal pastor named Mechak said in a service broadcast on television that “this should serve as a lesson to us. When there is an accident like this we should steer clear and let rescue workers do their job.”

DNA tests will be carried out on bodies that were burnt beyond recognition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.

A woman who had accompanied her neighbour to retrieve the body of a victim at the hospital said: “When I saw the injured my whole body trembled. They had been burnt like pieces of meat.”

 ‘No one wanted to listen’ 

Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, according to the region’s governor.

Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in smoke and flames, with charred bodies and the burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis scattered on the ground among scorched trees.

A video posted on social media taken before the explosion showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.

“We arrived at the scene with two neighbours just after the truck was overturned. While some good Samaritans were trying to get the driver and the other two people out of the truck, others were jostling each other, equipped with jerricans, to collect petrol,” teacher January Michael told AFP.

“At the same time, someone was trying to pull the battery out of the vehicle. We warned that the truck could explode at any moment but no one wanted to listen, so we went on our way, but we had barely turned on our heels when we heard the explosion.”

‘May God heal you’ 

President Magufuli on Sunday visited some of those injured in the blast at a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

“May God heal you,” he said to the 43 patients, some in very serious condition.

Majaliwa said Sunday that a special commission would investigate whether mismanagement had contributed to the disaster.

“While our now-dead compatriots were gathering to syphon fuel, did anyone try to stop them?” Majaliwa asked.

Magufuli has called for people to stop stealing fuel in such a way, a common event across Africa, saying he was “very shocked” by the dangerous practice.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.

In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger near the airport of the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.


Death Toll Rises To 75 In Tanzania Fuel Tanker Explosion


The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania rose to 75 on Monday as four more people succumbed to their injuries, a hospital official said. 

“We deplore four new deaths. Their bodies are currently resting at the morgue while we wait for relatives to identify them,” said Aminiel Aligaesha, spokesman for the National Hospital in the economic capital, Dar es Salaam.

Funeral services which began Sunday were expected to continue Monday as the country concluded a period of national mourning declared by President John Magufuli.

The explosion took place Saturday morning near the town of Morogoro, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

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The dead were trying to collect leaking petrol from the overturned tanker.

Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, officials said.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Sunday that of 59 people injured in the Tanzania explosion, 43 had been transferred to the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam while the rest were receiving treatment in Morogoro.

Aligaesha said Monday that the remaining 39 patients at the National Hospital were “doing better” and that medical staff were “striving to provide them with the best possible care”.

Morogoro Governor Stephen Kebwe said the 16 patients there were also improving.