Over the past 24 hours, island destination Zanzibar has found itself trending for all the wrong reasons and this has prompted statements from the country’s government and official tourism bodies.
It all began when a young Nigerian woman, named Zainab Oladehinde, shared a horrific experience she had at a particular hotel a year ago when she travelled to the destination for a solo holiday to celebrate her 23rd birthday.
“It’s high time I told my horrible experience in Zanzibar as a young solo female traveller. 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,” tweeted Zainab on Saturday.
She detailed as much of her ordeal as she could in a lengthy Twitter thread complete with pictures, videos and screenshots.
“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 traveller 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 [six] night accommodation.
“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,” wrote Zainab.
On the day of her last birthday, upon returning to her room, Zainab said went back to her 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.
READ: Inside Liesl Laurie-Mthombeni’s fabulous Zanzibar vacation
“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,” she added.
She continued: “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 [because] 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.”
She went on to detail how she crawled out of her room, for fear of being spotted by the security guards by the pool near her room as she feared they may be party to the attack on her. She crawled to the room of a couple she had met earlier that evening and asked for their help after finding no one at the front desk.
The following morning, she eventually made her way to the police station where she says she had yet another unpleasant experience with local police.
At the time of writing, her tweets had been retweeted tens of thousands of times and liked over 115,000 times.
This prompted others to share their bad experiences while visiting the country and resolve to give the hotel bad reviews in an effort to drive down the hotel’s rating. A number of women declared that they would never travel to the country in fear of their own safety.
The following day, the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism acknowledged Zainab’s account of her ordeal.
The commission further stated that it was “shocked and disappointed to learn of this incident and takes these allegations very seriously.”
According to the commission, an investigation has been commenced and the findings will be communicated with the public.
“We condemn any harm or threat to our visitors to the peaceful islands of Zanzibar,” added the commission.
Warere Beach hotel initially issued a statement in which they claim that the security guard in question admitted to entering her room but claimed that it was upon a mutual agreement between himself and Zainab. The hotel further added that the guard in question was not an employee of the hotel but was stationed there by the security company contracted to guard the hotel.
“As a woman-owned and operated business, the Warere takes guest safety and the safety of single women travelers extremely seriously, as evidenced by 6 years of verified positive reviews from women all over the world.
We tried our best to support Ms Zainab Oladehinde as soon as we learned of the accusations. We immediately brought her to the police and offered her support. The case was brought before Government authorities in April 2021 when it occurred. The police report indicated that this was a personal case, and not negligence on the part of the Warere,” explained the hotel.
The hotel alleges that Zainab declined to take the case further and demanded compensation from the hotel and that the hotel would only pay damages if a court determined that they were liable.
This is a developing story.
READ NEXT: Island destinations remain a favourite for South African travellers