A young woman who travelled alone to a hotel in Zanzibar last year, to celebrate her 23rd birthday, has posted a string of tweets today alleging that the hotel, and the police on the Tanzanian island, covered up a traumatic attack she suffered in her room in the dead of night.
Zainab Oladehinde claims that she woke up on the eve of her birthday to find a man in her room who was touching her and later tried to strangle her. She also details the shocking treatment she received when she tried to report the attack. Over $1,000 was also stolen from her bag.
Her Twitter thread has gone viral, trending in the Top 4 in South Africa, and leading to several travellers saying they’re dropping Zanzibar from their Bucket List (although some have said this could happen anywhere). Zanzibar businessmen have apologised on behalf of the island for her shocking and heartbreaking experience, and the President of Zanzibar has been tagged. The hotel itself – named by Zainab as Warere Beach Hotel in Nungwi, Zanzibar – has closed Comments on its Instagram page, and at the time of publishing this article, its website was experiencing a ‘critical error’. Social media users have encouraged one another to give the hotel a poor rating, and subsequently the hotel’s rating on Google Reviews has dropped from 4.5 to 1.3.
Zainab said the hotel has said she’s lying. SAPeople has reached out to the hotel for its side of the story, and will update when we hear from them. UPDATE: The Zanzibar Commission of Tourism has issued this statement:
At the time of publishing over 42,000 people have retweeted Zainab’s tweets, and over 56,000 have ‘liked’ them.
Zainab’s full Twitter thread on her shocking experience at Zanzibar hotel
« It’s high time I told my horrible experience in Zanzibar as a young solo female traveler. This incident happened a year ago in April of 2021 but I haven’t been able to talk about it cause I’ve been in therapy for a year to heal from the psychological trauma as this experience has been the most painful and traumatic experience I’ve ever faced in my entire life. Infact! I’m glad I’m still alive today to share my story.
« MY 23rd BIRTHDAY VACATION WENT WRONG IN ZANZIBAR , TANZANIA
« On the 15th of April 2021, I flew from Lagos, Nigeria to Zanzibar, Tanzania for my 23rd birthday and I was extremely excited about it. I had my reservations about going to a foreign country as a solo female traveler but none of my thoughts would have prepared me for what I eventually witnessed and experienced in Tanzania.
« It was a 2-day flight as we had a one day transit time in Adis Ababa Ethiopia. I arrived at my hotel WARERE BEACH hotel in Nungwi Zanzibar on the 16th of April, 2021 in the afternoon around 4pm where I had booked a 6 night accommodation.
On the 15th of April 2021, I flew from Lagos, Nigeria to Zanzibar, Tanzania for my 23rd birthday and I was extremely excited about it. I had my reservations about going to a foreign country as a solo female traveler but none of my thoughts would have prepared me for what
— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 16, 2022
« On getting to the hotel, I was welcomed by the staff and they showed me my room which had a pool and sea view. Now, this looked like heaven to me and I can remember being so excited as this was going to be my dream birthday holiday.
« I couldn’t do much except eat dinner as I was tired from my flight and I just wanted to sleep. My itinerary the next day was to spend sometime to explore the hotel whilst I settle fully into vacation mode before I’d start my tourist activities which I never got the time to do
« I had breakfast, went to the pool and the beach which was very nice . I mingled with some Russian couples who were also lodged at the hotel and by evening time, I was already in full birthday mode as it was just a few hours to my birthday.
« At around 12am, a few friends and family called to wish me a happy birthday and then I went back to my room to sleep. Few hours into my sleep, I started to feel a strange hand touching my breast. ‘Now, this was me sleeping naked on my bed in my hotel room with my doors locked so this was definitely a dream’. I told myself and went back to sleep
« Some few minutes afterwards, I started to feel my hands stroking someone’s penis. At this moment, I opened my eyes to confirm if It was actually a dream or I was in real danger. Low and behold, it wasn’t a dream. There was a naked man lying on my bed and touching me at 2am in my hotel room ! He started calling me “baby” and then I became scared cause the room was dark as I had switched off the lights before I went to bed. Now, I was extremely scared
« I asked the man “who are you?” But all he kept saying was “baby, baby” . I asked in a louder tone this time around cause I was getting angry and then he quickly stuffed his hands over my mouth in an attempt to stop me from shouting.
« In this moment, I became very scared as I didn’t know who this was and why this person was in my room. A lot of things were going through my head at the same time. Who is this ? Does he have a weapon ? Will I get raped and killed on my birthday in a strange land?
« How did this man get into my room? Should I struggle for my life? Will he rape me and throw me into the ocean directly opposite my room? Should I let him rape me so he may spare my life? Should I run? Will he chase me? Who else is outside my door? Is he the only one? Does he have a knife? Will he stab me?
« While all these was going through my head, this man tried to climb on top of me in an attempt to force his penis inside of me. At this point, I became scared cause he was stinking so badly and that was the only thing I could smell. I couldn’t see his face so I started touching his body so I’d get some clarity on how to identify him if I ever get out of my room alive.
« I was crying profusely now and needed to find a quick way to distract him so I started begging him not to rape me but he didn’t understand English as he kept on speaking Swahili to me. I then lied to him that I have HIV and he’d need to get a condom before sleeping with me.
« He didn’t understand a word I said but immediately he heard HIV, he paused for a while.
« I quickly wanted to use the opportunity to run but then he started strangling my neck. I became very scared for my life as I saw my life flash right before me in an instant
« So I continued begging him and telling him I’d allow him have sex with me but he’d need to go get a condom so as not to get HIV. I saw that he reacted to the word “HIV” so I kept on saying HIV whilst crying profusely at this point.
« His belt fell off the bed so I got an instant feeling that this man came to my room fully clothed before removing his clothes right on my bed. He wore his shoes and came back to press my neck against the bed
« As I struggled to not let him strangle me, he left the room and told me he’d be back with a condom. Immediately he left, I switched on the light, tried to call hotel reception but to my surprise, there was no intercom or phone lines to reach the hotel reception through the the room. How can there be no phones in the room in a hotel that was supposedly a 4.5 star hotel in Zanzibar? I immediately locked my doors, ran to the bathroom and called my friend. I couldn’t talk well cause I was just crying but finally, I could speak and then we decided
« I couldn’t stay back in the room and wait for the rapist to come back. Hell! Who knows what would happen to me this time around when he comes back to my room. Should I leave my room? I don’t know who or what is outside my hotel room either!
« All these thoughts I had while I tried to call the police but no one was responding to their calls. Then I sent a message to the hotel’s owner that I had been speaking with weeks before my trip.
« I decided it was very unsafe for me to remain in the room. If I’d die, I’d rather die trying to escape rather than let the man come back to attack me a second time in my room. I quickly put some clothes on and left my room barefooted so as not to make noise when I get out
« On getting outside the room, I wanted to make my way to the reception but then I saw two men who happened to be security men standing outside by the pool side having a conversation. I wanted to go meet them to tell them I had just just been attacked by a stranger in my room but I thought to myself “what if this was the person (s) who actually attacked me? ” Then I became extremely scared cause I’d have to find a way to get to the reception without those men seeing me.
« Then I started to crawl on my knees chest around the leaves so no one could see me. When I got to hotel reception, I knocked on every door but no one answered me . I was crying profusely at this point cause I thought I wouldn’t survive this night. How could it be that there was no one in all these rooms at the reception?
« Almost immediately, I remembered the Russian couple I had spent some time with the day before and I could go to their room to seek refuge. The only issue was that the security men were directly opposite their room and I may get noticed if I go there. At this point, I put my phone on silence and started crawling on my chest till I got to their room
« I hoped their room wouldn’t be locked so incase I get noticed, I would be able to call for help before anything happens to me.
« Fortunately for me, the room was opened and I ran inside. They woke up almost immediately and I told the guy ‘Alex ‘ how I was strangled and almost got raped in my room. He advised that I stay in his room till we sort out the issue by day break. I called my friend to tell him I was in another room where I felt safe and he told me had called the hotel owner. This was around 4am in the morning.
« At 6am in the morning, I left Alex’s room and went back to the reception. Still didn’t find anyone there. I called my Taxi driver “Mr Suley” to come pick me up and take me to the police station as I waited at the hotel reception/restaurant
« I waited there for over 2 hours before I was attended to by the hotel manager ‘Mussa’. Mussa claimed to have received a phone call around 4am by the hotel’s owner to go check for me in my room after my friend had called them. He said he didn’t find me in the room so he went back to bed. My phone battery was low at this point so I had to go back to my room to pick up my charger. On getting to my room, I checked my bag where I had kept my money and then I realized my money was missing!
« OMG !! I was super livid at this point. Not only did these people try to rape and kill me, they also stole my $1,100. I had one thousand, one hundred dollars in my bag and it was gone also.
« I told Mussa to call out all the security personnel that were on duty the night before so we’d get the hang of who the culprit was. They all came out. I couldn’t recognize any of them but I could smell the man that was in my room that midnight.
« The taxi driver arrived and we all left for the police station. The hotel manager and owner still hadn’t reached out to me yet. When I was talking and telling the staff that I was sexually assaulted and strangled that midnight, they all acted nonchalant about my story
« When we got to the police station, I was asked to write my statement which I did. The police men asked me to narrate the incident to them and they advised I go to the hospital to go do a check up if I was raped or not.
« They were all speaking Swahili and were asking me questions instead of interrogating the suspects. When I decided to take a picture of the police station and the statement I had written, the police men started shouting at me and threatening me to delete the pictures I have
« I stood my ground and said I wouldn’t delete any picture. The police chief at the Nungwi police station then said he wouldn’t let them take me to the hospital for checkup if I don’t delete my pictures and videos.
« The suspects. (Zainab posted a photo of three men from the hotel.) “The guy in the middle wearing a Blue Tee named “Zanzibar” is Mussa the hotel receptionist. The guy wearing the head warmer by his right is a kitchen staff while the guy wearing a black and white Tee is a security personnel”
« This is the chief of police at the Nungwi police station in Zanzibar, Tanzania who said I should delete all my pictures and videos. (Zainab posted a photo of the police chief.) They knew I didn’t understand Swahili and never spoke English so I couldn’t hear what they were conversing about.
« I didn’t delete my pictures and videos. Instead, I took more because this was the only weapon I had against them. I started to google Nigerian embassies in Tanzania. I called all of them but no one answered me. They finally let me go to the hospital for a checkup.
« When we got to the hospital, the nurse confirmed that there was no penetration. I got back to the police station and the police men said they have no issue for the sexual assault since I wasn’t raped. That the only issue here was my stolen money .
« The police men at the Nungwi police station in Zanzibar kept on bullying and harassing me. Told me to leave their police station that I wasn’t raped and they had confirmed there was no penetration from the nurses.
« This was 3pm already. This day was my BIRTHDAY. My friends and family back in Lagos didn’t know all that was happening to me in Zanzibar. I was so frustrated, sad and scared. How could the police do this to me? How could the hotel do this to me?
« This is Alex. One of the Russian couple narrating how I ran into his their room to seek refuge in the middle of the night when the security men at WARERE BEACH HOTEL NUNGWI ZANZIBAR TANZANIA busted into my room. (Zainab posted a video in which Alex confirmed what happened.)
« I’m sorry but I’d need a break to continue as typing this is very overwhelming and sharing this is a whole lot more than I imagined. I’ll be back.
« The hotel has closed off their comment section on Instagram but I won’t stop till everyone boycotts this crazy hotel. The owner and manager said I lied about my experience. »
Several Zanzibar residents have responded, tagging the Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi to take action against the perpetrators.
While many South Africans have had wonderful holidays to Zanzibar, one Twitter user said: «Zanzibar is a horror story, my hotel shuttle never picked me up at the airport (flight landed at almost midnight) had to find alternative accommodation for the night and get a taxi to the resort the next day. Was with my wife we were shit scared, Stone Town is very dodgy. »
Zanzibar businessman Arafat A Haji said: « Zainab, Sorry to learn of this very unfortunate and abnormal situation, rest assured the culprit will be brought to account. »
A Zanzibar safari operator added: « Zainab first sending you a big hug, im very sorry i feel really shame that your holiday went like that, your msg has reach to our Minister of Tourism already and he started to follow up immediately. »
All these assholes who came here to debate what does or does not constitute rape in a situation of a man forcing himself naked into a woman’s locked room, bed, and vagina should take a very long walk off a very short pier.
— Uju Anya (@UjuAnya) April 16, 2022
The police men at the Nungwi police station in Zanzibar kept on bullying and harassing me. Told me to leave their police station that I wasn’t raped and they had confirmed there was no penetration from the nurses.
— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 16, 2022