Business editor Kwanele Dhladhla along with investigative journalist Welcome Dlamini working for the newspaper, The Times of Swaziland went to the Qatar Embassy in order to ask questions to Qatar’s Charge d’ Affaires and acting ambassador Yaqoub Yousuf al-Mulla about an event where Yaqoub purportedly pointed a firearm towards a street vendor. Apart from the Times of Swaziland report; a Swazi journalist also has information about the case.
Although, Yaqoub agreed to speak on the matter with Dhladhla and Dlamini; later on he tried to force them to sign a written concession that they won’t publish the article on their newspaper.
A document with an Embassy of Qatar letterhead, dated 5th October stated that the employees of the Times won’t publish any facts about the embassy of the state of Qatar without the permission of Qatar. In the event, the reporters publish any news they would be litigated.
As the story was in the interest of the public, Dhladhla and Dlamini declined to sign the document. According to MISA- Zimbabwe, the acting diplomat instructed the security staff of the embassy to confine the journalists till they signed the agreement. According to MISA and Times of Swaziland article, the diplomat even warned to report about the journalists to senior members of the Swazi Royal House.
Yaqoub called the Swazi police and recorded that the journalists broke into the embassy as they didn’t had the permit to enter the embassy. Once Dhladhla and Dlamini were released, they headed to the police station and filed a charge of kidnapping against the diplomat.
Editor of Times of Swaziland expressed utter shock that their journalists were subjected to such treatment by the ambassador. He added that it is not an attack on the local media but also demonstrated disrespect towards the country.
However, a senior official in the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs refuted the claim of detaining the journalists.