Kenyan journalist Collins Juma alias Yassin Juma (pictured above) has refuted reports that he chose to stay with friends in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after he was released from Covid-19 isolation centre upon his recovery from the virus.
Juma was referring to a statement by the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Ethiopian Embassy, which stated that the TV reporter opted to stay in Addis Ababa despite being released from Woreda isolation centre where he was taken to after detention.
He posted on his Facebook page on Saturday: “Kindly treat as misleading, pedestrian talk, reckless rumours, straight-up moshene (gossip) and sensational reports that I chose to remain in Ethiopia with friends…”
He added: “The Ethiopian Government’s Ministry of Health new travel regulations require that I spend 14 days in house isolation and be issued with a Covid-19 status certificate by the Federal government upon completion.”
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“I was ready with my luggage set to fly back home immediately after l left the health facility only to be informed about this regulation by a Ministry of Health of the official. This was also clearly communicated to the Kenya Embassy upon my discharge from the health centre.”
According to Juma, he could not have decided to stay in Ethiopia after being detained in there, getting infected with the coronavirus and spending weeks at the isolation centre.
He said: “I am however looking for alternative means to have a certificate issued by the African Union (AU) the earliest possible so that I can be able to fly back home and be reunited with my children, my grandson, relatives, friends and supporters.”
Egg on face of government?
His statement puts Kenyan government on the spotlight after the Ethiopian Embassy gave a statement saying Juma opted to stay in Addis Ababa after completing mandatory 14-day isolation. However, the government did not speak of the subsequent home-based quarantine the Juma said he was subjected to after being healed.
“Officials of the Embassy in Addis Ababa, while visiting him to check on his welfare, at Woreda 7 Health Centre, were informed by the health worker that in keeping with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) guidelines all asymptomatic patients are “deemed cured” after the mandatory 14 days of isolation,” the Ethiopian Embassy said in a statement.
Juma was arrested in June 2020 after chaos erupted in Ethiopia following the killing of a musician and an activist Hachalu Hundesa in Oromia region. The musician, who hailed from the Oromo region was shot dead while driving in the streets of Addis Ababa.
The reporter would later complain of detention without trial at Arada Police Station despite orders from the Lower and High courts that he be released.
In an emotional piece Juma penned, which was published by the Daily Nation, he noted: “Kindly pass my greetings and love to my children, my grandson and all those supporting me through the #freeYassinJuma online campaign. I can’t thank them enough. Remember me in your prayers as I fight coronavirus and injustice.”
“It is my 47th day in detention at Aradar detention cell. It is also my 7th day since I was diagnosed with Covid-19. I am currently being held at block (W) with 68 other Covid-19 positive inmates with no access to medication in overcrowded cells, no running water and no diet to assist us with our condition.”
Juma expressed fears for his health owing to the lack of a proper diet that could help him survive the coronavirus.
“My health is failing with each passing day, and I am not sure if I will make it. It is 50-50 with coronavirus but the conditions in detention make my survival chances less,” he said.