Tanzania: Vanessa Mdee in custody over drug charges

Tanzanian police are still holding popular TV presenter and songstress Vanessa Mdee on allegations of drug abuse and trafficking. Mdee surrendered to the police on 8 March after returning from South Africa, where she was part of the cast filming the fifth season of MTV Base series Shuga.

Vanessa Mdee. Photo: Youtube
Vanessa Mdee. Photo: Youtube

“The information at hand shows she is both a user and a trafficker, but we are still carrying out investigations,” Dar es Salaam Special Zone deputy police commissioner Simon Siro said during a press conference. He alluded to having received a tip-off from city residents.  

Dar es Salaam regional police commissioner Paul Makonda last month summoned Mdee alongside other celebrities as part of an ongoing anti-narcotics operation. The spirited police dragnet has arrested 17 suspects from the more than 100 who have been already questioned. They include senior government officials, high-ranking police officers, church ministers and celebrities.

Celebrities who have already been interrogated are former Miss Tanzania Wema Sepetu and her fiancé, Big Brother 2014 housemate Idris Sultan, Nassib Abdul (popularly known as Diamond Platnumz), video vixen Tunda Kimaro, socialite Agnes Masogange and Clouds FM owner Rugemarila Mutahaba. Also summoned are musicians Khalid Mohammed (TID), Dogo Hamidu, Babuu wa Kitaa, Emmanuel Elibariki, Chidi Benz and Samir Kheri (Mr Blue).

“In this war against narcotics, no one is too prominent to be arrested even if they are politicians, security officers, cabinet ministers or the child of a prominent person,” President John Magufuli, who has thrown his weight behind the perceived witch hunt, said in parliament last month. “Even if my wife Janet is involved, go ahead and arrest her.”

Mdee’s lawyer, Aman Tenga, confirmed that his client was being held at the central police station in Dar es Salaam. He said police had searched her house in Kunduchi before taking her to the government chemist where Vee Money, as she is popularly known, was subjected to a drug test.

The 28 year old is dating Tanzanian R&B singer Juma Jux, whose ex-girlfriend was arrested in China in 2015 for smuggling drugs.

Mdee, who rose to prominence as a radio and TV host, is the first ever Tanzanian winner of the MTV Base VJ Search. She hosted the Epic Bongo Star Search and the Dume Challenge for ITV Tanzania before signing with B’Hits Music Group in late 2012. Her hits include ‘Closer’ and ‘Cash Madame’.

Here are some reactions to Mdee’s arrest:

“Dear Vanessa, I’m sending my love to you” Lady Jaydee, Tanzanian artist

“We as a family are saddened and hurt by these allegations because there’s no way Vanessa can be involved in drugs. I have to be there for my sister because I know she gets easily hurt, especially because some of her fans believe everything they hear,” – Maryanne Mdee, aka Mimi Mars

“Magufuli is arresting artists whose Instagram posts don't match their tax remittances. He's accusing them of selling drugs coz they can't be living this large! He's like, how can these artists be in and out country more than ministers? He should cross the border! Buddha Blaze, Kenyan artist and talent manager

“It's Ok but Magufuli first needs to streamline the music industry to make sure the artists get their dues through downloads and other revenues via their CMOs.”Fundi Frank, Kenyan rapper and fashion designer 

“Tabasamu lako ndo letu. Mungu atakuongoza my sister wa ushindi kabisa. Nakuombea na mungu yuko katika hatua zako. (Your joy is our joy. May God guide you to victory, my sister. I’m praying for you).” Barnaba Elias, bongo artist

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