A day after the US arm of the free-speech organisation PEN “expressed outrage at the harassment and confinement in a mental institution of South African psychologist and novelist Zainub Priya Dala (ZP Dala) exacted in reprisal for her comments in appreciation of the writing” of  writer Salman Rushdie, the South African writer on Sunday issued a series of tweets clarifying the situation.

She said that while she was indeed under psychiatric treatment in Durban, she had gone to the hospital voluntarily.


Three weeks ago, shortly she reportedly expressed admiration for the Indian-born author’s works, Dala had been confronted by assailants who hit her in the face with a brick and called her a “Rushdie bitch”. She suffered a mild concussion, facial injuries and a hairline fracture.

After the attack, said PEN, Durban’s Muslims had “ostracised Dala, putting her under extreme pressure to renounce her statement about Rushdie's work…and to make a public vow of religious loyalty to Islam”.

It added, “When she continued to refuse to make a religious vow or other statements inconsistent with her personal beliefs she was admitted to a mental institution. A psychologist by profession, Dala is the mother of a young child and ultimately consented to go to the hospital to avoid intense and intrusive harassment at her home. She also reports continued questioning about her beliefs by hospital staff.”

Dala's tweets cast her confinement in a slightly different light. (Tweet number four is not visible on her timeline. It is unclear whether she deleted it or whether her state of confusion led her to give the posts wrong numbers.)