Johannesburg - The mystery around the incarceration of a South African woman in Oman has deepened after it emerged that she and her brother are allegedly linked to a murder in that country.
It is also alleged that she is being held for assisting her brother escape the alleged murder rap in the Middle Eastern country. Now Omani authorities are said to have asked for the woman's brother to hand himself over in exchange for her freedom.
Chloe Collins, from Kraaifontein,Cape Town, arrived in Oman in April to work in the hospitality industry as a hotel waitron. However, less than three weeks after arriving she was detained by the authorities in the country.
The family believed that their daughter was wrongfully detained and said the details of the case against her were unclear to them. Their lawyer, Simone Carolissen, told The Star that they do not know what Collins was charged with or whether she has made an appearance in court in Oman.
“Everything has been hanging in the air but what we do know is that she is in custody. She went to work over there and she was sent through an agency,” she said. Carolissen added that the family had heard that she was arrested in connection to a crime that her brother allegedly committed.
“There is a story that has been making the rounds in respect that her brother has been linked to a crime in Oman,” said the lawyer.
A source close to the case told The Star that Collins was allegedly detained because her brother is a suspect in the murder of an Omani citizen and Collins allegedly assisted him to illegally flee the country.
“While the police were looking for him, the sister then assisted the brother to get out of the country undetected. She got him a ticket and helped him to escape,” said the source.
The source added that the family had not been forthcoming with the information surrounding her arrest because the facts do not favour their daughter.
Carolissen said they did not want to disclose her brother's name for his safety, however, she confirmed that he was also in Oman this year but returned to South Africa. The brother is currently at a mental institution where he was being treated for schizophrenia diagnosed on his return to the country.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the Oman government informed the South African Embassy in Muscat of Collins’s detention.
“Ms Collins has requested Dirco in writing not to share any information regarding her detention with the media and Dirco is therefore not in a position to divulge the reason for her detention,” said Monyela.
The spokesperson added that it was international practice that governments do not intervene in the legal aspects of a case when its citizens are arrested and detained abroad.
“As is practice the South African government is not in a position to ask for charges against a South African citizen to be dropped or for a citizen to be released from detention,” he said.
Carolissen said Collins was doing fine, according to a missionary who visited her regularly in jail.
“She is okay and healthy. As far as we know, there has not been any harm done to her but we don’t know if they are withholding information from us it is very vague and we don’t know what is happening with her,” she said.
The lawyer said the Collins family were faced with the challenge of finding legal representation for her in that country because their legal fees were high and the exchange rate between the Omani rial and the rand was almost R40 to a rial. She also added that the South African law firms who are connected in Oman only deal with corporate law. She said Oman lawyers quoted the family 5000 rial (R200 000).
Locked Up in a Foreign Country, an organisation that helps South Africans in jails in other countries, said Dirco had announced that there were about 800 South Africans being held in foreign countries but director Patricia Gerber wasn't sure how correct the figures were.
Gerber added that the common problem when a South African was held abroad was that the detaining country and Dirco do not update the families of the detainees.
“They only update the family if the accused appears in court and on the type of sentence given to the accused. It is always the family that has to keep asking and asking,” said Gerber.@Chulu_M