The Secretary of the Council of Muslim Organisations in Tanzania, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda has been admitted to Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI) after sustaining arm injuries allegedly from shots fired by the police on Saturday in Morogoro.
The report followed spread of conflicting information on the condition and whereabouts of the controversial Muslim cleric.
MOI Senior Social Welfare Officer Mary Ochieng confirmed Sheikh Ponda was admitted yesterday at around 11:00am and had undergone major surgeries on his right arm.
“Preliminary X-Ray results showed that the Muslim leader had two fractures on his right arm,” she said noting that further information will be availed today after doctors fully examine him.
“All in all he is doing fine. He can speak and respond to any conversation,” she added.
Explaining the incident, Sheikh Ponda’s cousin Isihaka Rashid claimed the cleric was shot by the police who had blocked the road with the intention to arrest Ponda, who addressed a Muslim gathering in Morogoro.
But the the police said they were tracking the cleric wanted by police in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam for breach of a ban order.
Following the blockade Sheikh Ponda reportedly decided to get out of the taxi cab carrying him and stood outside the car with his followers. That is when he was allegedly shot in the shoulder in the fracas that followed attempts to arrest him, according to the police.
Rashid said his followers spirited him to the regional hospital and later transferred him to a nearby Islamic Foundation dispensary in Morogoro for first aid before taking him to Muhimbili in Dar es Salaam.
“His followers decided to transfer him to Muhimbili as they suspected the police would come and harm him again. So he was brought here at night while still bleeding from his injuries,” said Rashid.
He noted that Sheikh Ponda’s family members accompanied by an eye witness from Morogoro went to seek PF3 at Salender Bridge Police Post on Sunday morning before taking him to Muhimbili hospital.
Commissioner of Police Dar es Salaam Special Zone Suleiman Kova confirmed the cleric was at Muhimbili hospital for treatment.
Earlier police in the region said the cleric managed to escape in the fracas and hid at some unknown place.
Morogoro Regional Police Commander Faustine Shilogile told journalist that the information he had at the time of the news conference was that Ponda had escaped but was hiding somewhere in the region.
“We have not proved that Ponda is shot, we therefore call upon Ponda himself or his relatives to come forward and prove this to us,” said Shilogile previously.
He denied as hearsay that the police had shot Ponda as there was no proof of bullets on his body.
“You cannot hide gun bullet wounds. If he were shot, he would have come out in the open to request for a PF3 form to enable him get treatment,” said Shilogile, adding that he was surprised by information spread on the internet that Sheikh Ponda was shot dead and yet the police knew nothing of the sort.
Following the incident, Shilogile said the police had arrested two people and was looking for the five leaders who organised the Muslims’ forum in the region, noting that Muslims were given permit by police to hold the dialogue under condition that they wouldn’t use provocative language and Sheikh Ponda wouldn’t participate as he was being hunted by the police in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
He said the Sheikh was wanted for violating terms of his sentence issued by the court by organizing provocative religious gatherings.
He said that in August 10 around noon at Kiwanja cha Ndege there was a religious gathering which was addressed by more than five special guests and that Sheikh Ponda was given five minutes to say a word but he declined saying he would speak the following day.
Shilogile said the meeting was closed and Sheikh Ponda left in a vehicle closely followed by Muslims who had been at the meeting. The police were also following the vehicle intending to arrest Ponda. But before getting close to him his followers started stoning the police who responded by firing into the air to disperse the crowd, but eventually the followers managed to spirit away Ponda using a motorcycle.
Meanwhile a press statement issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday by Police Spokesperson Advera Senso confirmed that Sheikh Ponda was admitted at Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) nursing wound on his right shoulder he sustained during the clashes with police. She said a team comprising members from the Crime Desk led by Police Commissioner CP Issaya Mngulu has started investigating the incident.