File picture: Flickr

Johannesburg - Unidentified men who claimed to be police officers have forcibly taken a Tanzanian investigative journalist from his home in Dar es Salaam and his whereabouts remain unknown.

In a statement late Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was "concerned for the safety of investigative reporter Erick Kabendera who was forcefully removed from his home today, and called on Tanzanian police to disclose whether they have him in custody".

Kabendera's wife, who was cited in a local publication The Citizen, said that about six people who claimed to be police took her husband from their home in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. 

The men said they were taking the journalist to the Oysterbay Police Station, but they did not wear uniforms and refused to identify themselves when challenged, The Citizen said. 

They also took away phones belonging to Kabendera, his wife, and neighbours who recorded and took pictures of the incident.

When colleagues and a lawyer from the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition went to the police station to check on the journalist, Kabendera was not there.

Dar es Salaam's police chief, Lazaro Mambosasa, was quoted by The Citizen as saying the case had not been reported to them. 

CPJ said it could not confirm that the journalist was detained by police. 

"The manner in which this journalist was taken, by men claiming to be police, is very ominous and further evidence that the press is not safe in President John Magufuli's Tanzania," said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. 

"Authorities must immediately disclose if they are holding Erick Kabendera, and for what reason, and ensure the journalist is returned safely to his family."

Kabendera's articles have appeared in The Citizen's sister publication The East African, the website African Arguments, and the British newspaper The Guardian.

African News Agency (ANA)