Black woman shares grim details of attempted rape at Zanzibar hotel
“I have AIDS. You must use a condom. These were the words that potentially saved Zainab Oladehinde’s life on what was supposed to be her life’s anniversary trip to Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Her dreams of the perfect 23rd anniversary were broken. And a year later, she’s opening up about her experience with a cautionary tale for solo travelers.
“This incident happened a year ago in April 2021, but I could not talk about it because I have been in therapy for a year to heal from psychological trauma because this experience has been the most painful experience and the most traumatic thing I’ve ‘ever encountered in my entire life,” she said in a tweet that has been shared or retweeted more than 78,000 times. “Actually, I’m glad I’m still alive today. today to share my story.”
Waking up with a stranger in your bedroom in Zanzibar
Oladehine arrived at Warere Beach Hotel on April 16, 2021. She traveled for two days from Lagos, Nigeria in Zanzibar. The first night of his six night stay went well. She arrived later in the day and didn’t have enough energy to eat dinner until after the long flight.
Oladehinde says staff welcomed her and showed her around soon after she arrived. She remembers thinking that the hotel “looked like heaven”.
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The next morning, the first thing on his itinerary was to spend time exploring the hotel before his activities.
“I had breakfast, I went to the pool and the beach, it was very nice,” she says. “I mingled with Russian couples, who were also staying at the hotel. By evening time, I was already in full birthday mode, as there were only a few hours left until my birthday.
She returned to her room around midnight. After talking to a few friends and family, who wished her a happy birthday, she went to bed.
But after a few hours of sleep, she thought someone was touching her breasts. She knew she had locked the door so she thought it was a dream.
“A few minutes later, I started to feel my hands stroking someone’s penis,” she says. “I opened my eyes to confirm if it was really a dream, or if I was in real danger.”
Turns out she was.
The room was dark and she remembers the man calling her baby. She kept asking the man, “Who are you?” and he kept saying “baby, baby,” she recalled.
He placed his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming as she grew louder.
“I was very scared because I didn’t know who it was and why this person was in my room. A lot of things were going through my mind at the same time. Who is it? Does he have a weapon? Am I going to be raped and killed on my birthday in a foreign country?
fight for his life
There were so many thoughts going through his head. At the same time, the man tried to climb on it to force sex.
She cried as he spoke what she said was Swahili. She lied and told him she had HIV and he needed to get a condom first. But he started strangling her as she begged him for her life. She told him she would allow him to have sex with her as long as he used a condom, so he wouldn’t get the virus either.
“I saw he was reacting to the word ‘HIV’, so I kept saying HIV while crying profusely at that point,” she says.
The man pressed her neck against the bed again, and she fought not to let him strangle her. He told her he would come back with a condom and he left.
She immediately locked the doors and realized there was no phone to call for help. She tried to call the police and no one answered.
So she decided to leave the room.
“I decided it was very dangerous for me to stay in the room,” says Oladehine. “If I were to die, I would rather die trying to escape than let the man come back and attack me a second time in my room.”
Exit the room
Once outside, she tried to get to reception, but noticed two men standing by the pool talking.
It was the security guards, but she was afraid to say anything because she wasn’t sure if one of the men had attacked her.
Dropping to her knees, she started crawling back to reception so she wouldn’t be seen or heard. The only problem was that there was no one at reception.
“Almost immediately, I remembered the Russian couple I had spent some time with the day before, and I was able to go to their room to take refuge,” she says in the story.
After putting her phone on silent, she crawled to the couple’s bedroom.
Luckily for her, they left the door unlocked. She started telling them how she had been strangled and almost assaulted in her bedroom. The couple advised him to stay until morning.
At around 6am, she returned to reception where, for the second time, no staff was available. She called her taxi driver to take her to the police station and waited.
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After waiting for a manager for two hours, a man named Mussa finally showed up. He told her he received a phone call from his friend around 4am – two hours after the incident. He did not see her in the bedroom and went back to sleep.
It’s been a long morning and she notices her phone’s dead battery. She returned to her room to retrieve her charger before going to the police station and noticed that $1,100 had also been stolen.
“I told Mussa to call all the security personnel who were on duty the night before, so that we know who the culprit was,” Oladehinde said. “They all came out. I couldn’t recognize any of them, but I could smell the man who was in my room at midnight.
Hostility at the police station
Once at the police station, she was greeted with hostility. The police asked him for his side of the story and advised him to go to the hospital.
She didn’t speak the language and decided to take pictures of the station and her statement just in case. Noticing what she was doing, the police threatened her.
“The Nungwi police station chief then said he wouldn’t let them take me to the hospital for a checkup if I didn’t delete my photos and videos,” she said.
I stood my ground and said I wouldn’t delete any images. The police chief of Nungwi Police Station then said that he wouldn’t let them take me to the hospital for a checkup if I didn’t delete my photos and videos.
— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 16, 2022
But she kept the footage, saying it was the only evidence she had. After hours she finally arrived at the hospital, the nurse confirmed that there were no signs of penetration.
Officers from Nungwi Police Station in Zanzibar continued to intimidate and harass me. They told me to leave their police station that I had not been raped and that they confirmed that there had been no penetration by the nurses.
— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 16, 2022
Justice through a friend
The police kicked her out of the police station, but luckily she had good friends who went above and beyond for her. A friend contacted the district tourism commissioner, who sent his representatives to the police station.
Representatives condemned the police for abusing her and one of the suspects, the security guard, confessed to the crime.
He told police he had an accomplice in the kitchen staff.
Which brings me to the fact that my instincts were right not to have caught the attention of the men I saw by the pool at midnight, because they were the same men who entered my room. The security man and the kitchen staff.
— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 17, 2022
Hotel Zanzibar responds
The hotel released a statement on Facebook which reads:
“As a woman owned and operated business, La Warere takes customer safety and the safety of single female travelers very seriously, as evidenced by 6 years of verified positive reviews from women around the world.
“We did our best to support Ms Zainab Oladehinde as soon as we learned of the charges. We immediately took her to the police and offered our support.
“The police report indicated that it was a personal case and not negligence on the part of Warere.
“After going through the Zanzibar Nungwi Police, District Commissioners Office, Regional Commissioners Office and the Office of the Second Vice President of Zanzibar Government, Ms Zainab declined to pursue the case.
“Ms. Zainab Oladehinde has been advised that the hotel will respect any damages awarded by the Zanzibar court system.
“We will continue to serve our guests from all corners of the world with the same level of hospitality and excellence for which we have become known throughout Zanzibar over the past six years.”