ZP Dala treated for PTSD in Durban hospital amid reports of further abuse


After reports emerged on Saturday alleging that Durban-based author ZP Dala was forcibly institutionalised, the author has herself released a statement clarifying that she has been admitted to hospital to be treated for post- traumatic stress disorder.

Dala’s statement, however, comes after a statement from the US chapter of PEN alleged she was under “pressure from members of  Durban’s Muslim community to recant and repent” for her statements expressing admiration for author Salman Rushdie.

Following the statement from the US chapter of PEN, authors Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman were joined by activists in South Africa, including Zackie Achmat, in a chorus of concern for Dala’s welfare.

The English chapter of PEN also released a statement, which quoted Dala as saying: “I’ve been… drugged till I can barely walk… and basically broken down into a submission where I will follow the straight path (if there is one). I feel that the far-reaching damage to my kids will be severe as they attend schools that are 90% Muslim. And I refuse to educate them with fire and brimstone stories about how they may go to heaven but their beloved grandmother will burn in hellfire. That’s what they are teaching the kids now anyway. I have also been harangued to withdraw, dissect, explain and renounce my admiration of [Rushdie’s] works. I could just as easily burn my Oscar Wilde collection because some homophobes came calling. I can’t turn back now and pretend I never admired his writing. I would look like a fool.”     According to Rushdie, Dala had contacted PEN repeatedly seeking assistance. 

Twitter, understandably, reacted with great outrage at Dala’s predicament. In the meanwhile, some people close to Dala sought to temper the fury with some reason. 


These supporters of Dala questioned the report in the PEN statement.

What’s more, the South African legal system does indeed have safeguards in place. According to Dr Nabila Goga, writing on Facbeook, “The Mental health care act only allows involuntary admissions if an individual is a threat to themselves or others. It requires a 72-hour observation period before admission to a mental institute (which have to be public institutions) and a number of forms to be filled.”


 It was, however, not until Sunday morning that Dala clarified her position in a series of tweets.








Activist Zackie Achmat has apologised for treating the PEN statement as fact. He added, however: “I still condemn those in Durban and elsewhere who use Islam for reactionary politics. And, I still believe Muslim institutions must be challenged.”

Dear FriendsPlease see the message from Lubna Nadvi. My apologies to Zainub Dala for accepting the statement of PEN as… Posted by Zackie Achmat on Saturday, 11 April 2015



  1. While Dala’s assailants roam free and their support base remains intact, this issue has become mired in a cloud of conflicting information, a great deal of conjecture, misinformation and hype. This article clarifies issues but some of it raises more questions: Why did Dala contact PEN 11 times on Saturday? If reporters had gotten wind of hospitalisation in psychiatric ward, why no story in local publications on Sunday (until PEN’s story after being contacted by Dala)? Dala has expressed unhappiness and distress about people getting wind of her hospitalisation so why did she tweet about it? Dala understandably refuses to talk about all of this locally because of PTSD. So why does she talk to those abroad? Why and how did PEN get the story so spectacularly wrong? These queries may seem interrogative of the victim but she is best placed to clarify the issues.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here