2 min read
17 September 2022
Sello Tsolo, a South African, has been held “hostage” by the United Arab Emirates for nine years. On Friday, his family and friends will petition the South African government and the UAE embassy in Pretoria to let him free.
He originally travelled to the UAE to sign off on shares for a company but claimed he was later duped into signing an R2 million acknowledgement of debt form written in Arabic. The UAE claims it will not allow him to leave unless he pays back an R2 million “fraudulent” debt.
Sello Tsolo is now living in the SA Embassy in the UAE, and Tabelo Timse, a journalist who has covered the story previously, spoke to Radio Islam International.
Tsolo says the story of his situation was convoluted and explained how he had come to be jailed in Dubai after being scammed by an international fraudster, Amit Lamba, who posed as an investor.
He thought his nightmare had ended when he was released after serving three-year prison terms. But, Dubai’s Ajman Court did not release his passport and slapped a travel ban on him as he was viewed as an unrehabilitated debtor.
Timse got involved as she worked on the Vrede Dairy project when she was approached and informed about the incarceration of Tsolo and two other South Africans.
Her investigations uncovered that the South African government had vetted Lamba as a legitimate businessman, but it was later reported by The Times of India that Lamba had been arrested as part of a syndicate that lured Indian businesspeople to open businesses in Dubai and then confiscated their passports and blackmailed them.
Tsolos’ family and friends on Friday marched to that country’s embassy in Pretoria to demand his return and say they would not give up until he was allowed to return home.
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By Annisa Essack