On 12 January 1964 there was a Revolution in the newly independent
state of Zanzibar, ruled by the Sultan. The British High Commission
managed to save the Sultan and his family in the ship owned by the
Sultan, and they sailed safely to Dar es Salaam on 15 January. This coup
had full support of Sheikh Abeid A Karume - a political head from Zanzibar
and Pemba. The Tanganyika President, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, was
the head of the President's Office and Commander in Chief of the Armed
Forces of Tanganyika. He knew that there were elements within the
indigenous population who wanted to kill or harm the Sultan. However he instructed
his government that no harm be done to the Sultan nor to his companions.
I was instructed to see to his safety in Oyster Bay where a house was
provided. I arranged a police barrier and armed police personnel to guard
the Sultan. Later at 2am I was informed by Special Branch that I could go,
leaving my policemen surrounding the Residence. Pre-dawn the Sultan
and his party were taken to the airport and flown out of the country. Later
we got information that the Sultan had safely landed in London.
Just four days later an attempted coup took place in the Tanganyikan armed forces in Dar es Salaam centered largely around pay and conditions. The
British Brigadier immediately planned a counterattack and slowly things returned to
normal. There had been some police personnel who also participate but these were soon arrested. 94 were
arrested in the first operation and the rest were picked up later with not a single
bullet fired. About three days later I was called by my Regional Police
Commander, Assistant Commissioner Kiletta, to see him on the Floor.
He said, "Khan Lodhi - get ready. We are going to arrest Army personnel
who are in their office near the railway station. Make sure you post
policemen at all foreign embassies, banks, waterworks, electricity. Now
go and arrange it. Then we shall go to arrest the Army officers".
Accordingly, within 30 minutes the posting was done. The Commander
asked me on the telephone if the work had been done. I replied, "Yes,
Sir". He said, "Wait, I will call you back". He rang me again and said, "Get
ready, I will call you". I said, "Yes, Sir". After five minutes he called me,
"Have you gone". I said, "No, Sir, I am waiting for you". Again he rang,
"Are you still there? Come up". He said, "Why have you not gone?" I said,
"You said to wait, and I was waiting". He said, "You are a most stubborn
police officer - I have other work to do. Go and arrest them, they are all
wild, and armed". Before leaving the room he asked me how many men I had left to go along. I said, "Two - a police driver and the second, a police
detective". He said, "Go". I was very much disappointed. I came down
and informed my Chief Inspector, Mr Mandal.
I instructed the police driver to follow me in a large van. I took my car and
the detective sat with me in the front seat. We drove to the Army office. I
saw the Army officer, distressed and camouflaged, walking up and down
with a rifle. He knew me by name. "Bwana Khan, we need your help". I
said, "I have been sent to help you, and that is the reason I came with our
big van". The officer said, "Shall we get our vehicles?" I said, "Look up.
There is a plane. They can shoot you all including me. And in your
vehicles it could be dangerous. You and I will both die". So all the
soldiers started to get into the police van with their guns. I said, "You
should have no guns. You could be easy prey". I got their guns stacked in
the office and told them my driver would look after their guns. In the
meantime I sat in the driver's seat of the vehicle. Two officers holding the
rank of Lieutenant and Second Lieutenant sat with us in the front, leaving
my car locked there. When we arrived at the police station I ordered
drinks for them from a shop and told them that it was our police station.
No-one would come to any harm there.
Then I went to see my Regional Commander, telling him that I had with me
two officers and forty other ranks. I asked if I could bring them to see him.
He said, "No. I don't want to see them. Better take them to Police
Headquarters". When they were all refreshed, I drove the van to
Headquarters, parked the vehicle and went upstairs to see the Inspector-
General of Police. At the door I found a policeman was sitting there. I
said, "Please tell the IGP that I'm here, and have to talk to him urgently".
He said, "I cannot go in - there is a meeting". I raised my voice so that all
could hear. The Commissioner of Police, Mr Hamza Aziz, came out and I
told him about the Army men. He got the gist of the matter and I was
allowed to enter. I saw a number of senior policemen, the Junior Minister
of Home Affairs and the Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs. They
asked me how many men I had. I said, "Me, a police driver and a
detective police constable. They asked me about casualties. I said,
"None". Any violence? I said, "None". They asked me how the Army had
accepted my talk. I said, "Do you want to see them?" They said, "No".
After some discussion I was told to take them back to the Central Police
Station and await further instruction. I went down to the van and drove to
Central Police Station. I told my Commander that I had been instructed to
wait for IGP's instructions. Then I arranged another van with comfortable seats which could be locked outside. I also arranged cold drinks for the
Army officers. I kept talking with them to make them feel that there was
nothing wrong. I arranged Mobile police vans, one in front and another
one at the back, as I had received instructions that the lot would be taken
to Ukonga Prison.
When I had the instructions I drove this new van to Ukonga Prison without
locking the van cage. Reaching the Prison I got the prison door opened. I
informed the Prison Officer that I had Army men with me. He asked me if I
had any documents like arrest warrants. I said, "No". I asked him to
accept them as this was confirmed by the Ministry. The officer again said,
"Have you any papers? I said, "No. You could treat me as a warrant for their
detention". Then the gate was opened and all were handed over to the
prison. Then the Army officers started shouting at me. "You're a cunning
policeman. You promised us safety. One day after our release you will
see what will happen to your wife and children. We are not going to be
here for life. We will come out". I said, "Sirs, this is the best place for your
safety. These prison officers will only confine you and look after your
needs". After that, I left them.
Later on the senior Army officer, wearing Brigadier badges, entered my
office. He said, "I understand you have my men with you. Why are they
here?" I told the Regional Police Commander that the Commander of the
Army wanted to see him. He said, "Give me a little time and I will tell you to
bring him upstairs". In the meantime the officer was served coffee in my
office. He was very much upset. He wanted to see his men. My
Commander rang and asked me to bring him upstairs. I took him up to
where there were five Police officers. On entering the room he was
furious. The Commander and his men took his revolver and said, "Khan
Lodhi... you can go".
Even though the coup was more or less over, Army men were still on the
top of the building with weapons. Most of them were arrested by me
without the use of guns. During the whole operation I did not use guns.
Their guns were taken into custody and the men handed over to Ukonga
After that. Army officers from up-country were called by their head
office and I was told to meet them and then take them to the prison with
one 999 car in front and another at the rear, with no warrant.