April 2015 \ Diaspora News \ Diaspora News In Brief
Indian-origin writer attacked in South Africa

  • Ms Zainub Priya Dala

An Indian-origin author was attacked in South Africa for praising the controversial writer Mr Salman Rushdie said that the incident left her traumatised and needing psychiatric help. Ms Zainub Priya Dala, 40, said she was attacked a day after praising Rushdie’s writing style while addressing Chatsworth school children in Durban as part of the Time of the Writer literary festival.

Ms Dala said that a car forced her off the road on March 18, 2015 and one of the occupants—a man—held a knife to her throat and struck her across her face with a brick. She added that she swore at her, but was reluctant to go into details. A daily quoted Ms Dala’s publisher, Fourie Botha, on March 21, 2015 as saying the attacker called her “Rushdie’s bitch”. British Indian author Rushdie’s controversial 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” sparked protests by Muslims in several countries. He received death threats and was named in a 2010 Al Qaeda “hit list” by Islamist militant Anwar al-Awlaki.

Speaking to the Daily News on March 23, 2015, Ms Dala said she suffered a fracture to her left cheek bone and that she was seeing a psychiatrist to help her deal with the trauma. “I am on antibiotics and have taken a tetanus injection. This afternoon (March 23, 2015) I went to my doctor to see if the fracture was severe, but was told it’s okay,” she said. The attack occurred a day after her remarks caused a walkout at the Chatsworth Education Centre.

Chatsworth, a large suburb created in the 1960s to house the Indian-origin population in South Africa, is situated in south Durban basin. According to police spokesman Mr Thulani Zwane, it was alleged that Ms Dala noticed another vehicle following her on March 18, 2015 at 2 p.m. “She decided to pull over as she was unsafe. The same vehicle pulled over and the occupants tried to stab her and fled,” Mr Zwane said.