The family of a 23-year-old Cape Town woman who has been detained in Oman has asked the government to intervene on her behalf.
Chloe Collins from Kraaifontein arrived in the Middle Eastern country, where she had been working in the hospitality industry, in April 2019.
In a statement, her family said they were in utter shock and despair after she was arrested and detained less than three weeks later.
She has been in police custody since May 9.
They do not know the details of the case against her but believed her detention was wrong and that she could be denied the right to a fair trial.
“As Chloe currently has no legal representation in Oman, the family has no access to the formal charges and police dockets,” the statement on behalf of the family read.
“What could be ascertained is that Chloe’s brother, who has schizophrenia and is currently in a mental institution in South Africa, is suspected of being involved in a crime in the country before returning to South Africa. He has not been charged with any crime. The Omani authorities arrested her in the wake of the investigation and are now demanding his return in exchange for her.”
It is understood she will be transferred to a larger prison with questionable conditions unless legal representation can be secured for her.
“The past few months have been absolute torture. Chloe has been interrogated about the incident, in a foreign language, without legal representation for many hours.”
The family has set up a fundraising campaign for her legal fees, while more than 3,600 people have signed a petition by Monday afternoon calling for the South African government to intervene.
Lunga Ngqengelele, the spokesperson for International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, confirmed to News24 the department was aware of Collins’ detention but could not divulge the reasons why out of respect to her.
“The government of Oman has officially informed the SA Embassy in Muscat of her detention and we will remain in contact with it regarding certain administrative matters as required,” he said.
“It must be noted that it is standard international practice that governments cannot intervene in the legal aspects of a case when its citizens are arrested and detained abroad. As is practice, the SA government is not in a position to ask for charges against a SA citizen to be dropped or for a citizen to be released from detention.”
He said the South African Embassy in Muscat was rendering the necessary consular assistance to Collins and had visited her in detention more than once.
Ngqengelele added the department was in contact with a nominated family friend regarding the case.
“The department has noted concerns raised by the family and will approach them to address these concerns.”