South Africa


Family and friends demand release of SA man ‘held hostage’ for nine years in UAE

Family and friends demand release of SA man ‘held hostage’ for nine years in UAE
South African businessman Sello Tsolo. (Photo: Twitter)

The UAE says it won’t let South African Sello Tsolo go before he repays a R2m ‘fraudulent’ loan.

Family and friends of South African Sello Tsolo will on Friday petition the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Pretoria and the South African government to let him leave the UAE, which has held him “hostage” for nine years. 

“The UAE authorities refuse to allow him to leave the country until he pays a R2-million ($131,600) fraudulent debt he doesn’t even owe to an international scammer, Amit Lamba, who was vetted by the South African Department of Trade and Industry as a legitimate businessman/investor,” the #BringSelloHome! campaign said on Wednesday.

“Sello was arrested by the UAE authorities and imprisoned for 27 months, after which he is still not allowed to leave the UAE,” campaign organisers Mbothoma Solomon Maduna and Teboho Kenneth Tsolo said.  

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They added he had been living in the South African embassy in Abu Dhabi for the past five years since his release, with two fellow South Africans, TJ Kambule and Jannie van der Walt, who had been put in similar situations “by the same fraudsters, Amit Lamba and his partner Shweta Tyagi”.

Maduna and Tsolo said the petition, already signed by more than 10,000 people, would be presented to the UAE embassy in Pretoria at 11am on Friday. It would also call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene with the UAE government to release Tsolo, Kambule and Van der Walt.  

“Sello entered the UAE in his early 50s, on a two-week visit,” the petition states. “He is still there nine years later — now an elderly man in his 60s.

“His family is struggling to survive in South Africa. In 2019, Sello’s mother passed away, and still the SA Government refused to intervene in order to allow him to travel to South Africa and mourn her loss.  

“According to a report from Human Rights Watch, the UAE is notorious for their abusive debt laws which are in violation of a number of international human rights laws.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ed Rybicki says:

    What do you expect, when dealing with a “government” – read autocracy – which has utterly barbaric laws and not much of a sense of the rule of law or fairness when it comes to foreigners? The SA government really should start being firm: it’s not as if they are major investors in the country, or that they invest outside of state capture agents.

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