Photo Credit: TN
Black Woman Shares Grim Details From Attempted Rape At Hotel In Zanzibar
“I have HIV. You Have To Use A Condom.” These are the words that potentially saved Zainab Oladehinde’s life during what was supposed to be a birthday trip of a lifetime in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Her dreams of the perfect 23rd birthday were shattered. And a year later, she’s opening up about her experience with a tale of caution for solo travelers.
“This incident happened a year ago in April 2021, but I haven’t been able to talk about it because I’ve been in therapy for a year to heal from the psychological trauma as this experience has been the most painful and traumatic experience I’ve ever faced in my entire life,” she says in a tweet that has been shared or retweeted more than 78,000 times. “In, fact, I’m glad I’m still alive today to share my story.”
Waking Up To A Stranger In Her Room in Zanzibar
Oladehine arrived at the Warere Beach Hotel on April 16, 2021. She traveled for two days from Lagos, Nigeria to Zanzibar. The first night of her six-night stay went well. She arrived later in the day and only had enough energy to eat dinner after the long flight.
Oladehinde says the staff welcomed her and showed her around shortly after her arrival. She remembers saying to herself that the hotel “looked like heaven.”
The next morning, the first thing on her itinerary was to spend time exploring the hotel before her activities.
“I had breakfast, went to the pool and the beach which was very nice,” she says. “I mingled with some Russian couples, who were also lodged at the hotel. By evening time, I was already in full birthday mode, as it was just a few hours to my birthday.”
She headed back to her room around midnight. After talking to a few friends and family, who wished her a happy birthday, she went to bed.
But a few hours into her sleep, she thought someone was touching her breasts. She knew she locked the door so, she thought it was a dream.
“Some few minutes afterward, I started to feel my hands stroking someone’s penis,” she says. “I opened my eyes to confirm if it was actually a dream, or 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 replying “baby, baby,” she recalls.
He stuffed his hand over her mouth to stop her from shouting as she got louder.
“I became very scared as I didn’t know who this was and why this person was in my room. A lot of things were going through my head at the same time. Who is this? Does he have a weapon? Will I get raped and killed on my birthday in a strange land?”
Fighting For Her Life
There were so many thoughts running through her head. At the same time, the man tried to climb on top to force sexual intercourse.
She cried as he spoke what she says was Swahili. She lied and told him that she had HIV and that he needed to get a condom first. But he began to strangle 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 contract the virus either.
“I saw that he reacted to the word ‘HIV,’ so I kept on saying HIV whilst crying profusely at this point,” she says.
The man pressed her neck against the bed again, and she struggled to not let him strangle her. He told her he would be back with a condom and left.
She immediately locked the doors and realized there were no phones to call for help. She tried to call the police and no one responded.
So, she decided to leave the room.
“I decided it was very unsafe for me to remain in the room,” says Oladehine. “If I’d die, I’d rather die trying to escape rather than let the man come back to attack me a second time in my room.”
Getting Out of The Room
Once outside, she tried to make her way to the reception, but noticed two men standing by the pool having a conversation.
It was the security guards, but she was afraid to say something because she wasn’t sure if one of the men attacked her.
Falling down to her knees, she began to crawl to the reception to not be seen or heard. The only problem was no one was at the reception desk.
“Almost immediately, I remembered the Russian couple I had spent some time with the day before, and I could go to their room to seek refuge,” she recounts in the story.
After putting her phone on silent, she crawled to the couple’s room.
Luckily for her, they left the door unlocked. She began telling them how she was strangled and almost assaulted in her room. The couple advised her to stay until the morning.
Around 6 a.m. she went back to the reception desk where, for the second time, no staff was available. She called her taxi driver to take her to the police station and waited.
After waiting for a manager for two hours, a man named Mussa finally showed up. He told her he received a phone call to check on her from her friend around 4 a.m. – two hours after the incident. He didn’t see her in the room and went back to sleep.
It’s been a long morning, and she noticed the dying battery on her phone. She went back to her room to get her charger before heading to the police station and noticed $1,100 was also stolen.
“I told Mussa to call out all the security personnel that were on duty the night before, so we’d get the hang of whom the culprit was,” says Oladehinde. “They all came out. I couldn’t recognize any of them, but I could smell the man that was in my room that midnight.”
Hostility At The Police Station
Once at the police station, she was met with hostility. Police asked her side of the story and advised her 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 police chief at the Nungwi police station then said he wouldn’t let them take me to the hospital for a checkup if I don’t delete my pictures and videos,” she says.
I stood my ground and said I wouldn’t delete any picture. The police chief at the Nungwi police station then said he wouldn’t let them take me to the hospital for checkup if I don’t delete my pictures and videos— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 16, 2022
But she kept the footage, stating that it was the only evidence she had. After hours, she finally made it to the hospital, the nurse confirmed there were no signs indicating penetration.
The police men at the Nungwi police station in Zanzibar kept on bullying and harassing me. Told me to leave their police station that I wasn’t raped and they had confirmed there was no penetration from the nurses.— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 16, 2022
Justice Thanks To A Friend
The police chased her out of the police station, but thankfully, she had good friends who went above and beyond for her. A friend contacted the district commissioner for tourism, who sent his representatives to the police station.
The representatives condemned the police for treating her poorly 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 to not have called the attention of the men I saw by the pool that midnight because they were the same men who came into my room. The security man and the kitchen staff.— Zainab Oladehinde (@zainabdehinde) April 17, 2022
The Zanzibar Hotel Responds
The hotel posted a statement on Facebook that reads:
“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 police report indicated that this was a personal case, and not negligence on the part of Warere.
“After passing by the Zanzibar Nungwi police, the District Commissioners Office, the Regional Commissioners Office, and the office of the Second Vice President of the govt of Zanzibar, Ms. Zainab declined to take the case further.
“Ms. Zainab Oladehinde was informed that the hotel would abide by damages rewarded by the court system of Zanzibar.
“We will continue to serve our guests from all corners of the world with the same level of hospitality and excellence that we have become known for throughout Zanzibar over the past six years.”