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