(eTN) – In spite of regular official denials over the extent of crime in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam directly aimed at foreign visitors, another tragic case of a purse snatching gone horribly wrong has come to light overnight. A visiting medical doctor from Greece, walking along the Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road in the center of Dar es Salaam with a number of her colleagues on Sunday, saw a car drive up to her, and then arms stretched from the window, grabbing hold of her handbag, dragging her to her death when attempting to speed away. Her shocked colleagues rushed her to the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar for medical treatment but she then passed away due to internal bleeding sustained in the robbery. The 48-year-old lady tourist visitor was due to fly back home the next day after completing her mission in Tanzania.
Sadly, as reported here before, a number of previous incidents outside or near some of Dar es Salaam’s major business and tourist hotels, had taken place in the past, prompting the tourism fraternity to demand a better response from the police and from authorities, who for a while took the incidents reportedly as not significant enough to inject more patrols into the respective areas. It was only when the headlines started to hit the news overseas, in key tourism producer markets, that the alarm bells went off.
A recent double murder of a tourist in a tented camp just outside the Serengeti, where a camp manager was also killed, also rocked the reputation of Tanzania as a previously relatively safe destination, and this latest case will do little to calm the nerves of potential visitors, their travel agents and tour operators, many of whom are watching the growing crime statistics with both alarm and incredulity.
While expressing condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of the victim, this is also a reminder for authorities in Tanzania not to underestimate the impact of crime aimed at visitors and to again underscore what an impact on tourism arrivals such incidents can have. And considering the vigor with which the Tanzanian police of late has dealt with political opposition rallies, in particular the one where an innocent journalist, after asking apparently some hard-hitting questions in a media briefing before the event, was brutally killed while surrounded by police, here is a certain way to restore the dented reputation of the force in Tanzania but putting numbers in the streets and protecting wananchi and visitors alike, instead of becoming a political tool of repression.