BBC presenter arrested for allegedly working without permit in Zimbabwe


A BBC Radio 3 classical music presenter arrested in Zimbabwe last Thursday for allegedly working without a permit remained in custody over the weekend.

Petroc Trelawny (42) was arrested by immigration officials while compering at a music festival in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. He was subsequently moved to the capital, Harare.

Bruce McDonald, administrator of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, which organised the Bulawayo Music Festival, told reporters Mr Trelawny was apprehended at the end of a concert.

“He was detained at city hall right at the end of a performance involving 500 children. The hall was full to capacity: 800 to 1,000 people.

“There were no police. It was a gentleman from immigration who went up to him and said, ‘We’d like to see you’.”

According to newspaper reports Mr Trelawny dislocated his shoulder after accidentally falling while in custody. On Saturday he was taken from his cell to a Harare hospital where he underwent surgery.

“He had a bad fall,” Mr McDonald said. “He put his shoulder out and today they’re putting it back in under general anaesthetic.”

Zimbabwean jails are notoriously difficult places to be incarcerated, as food and sanitation facilities are scarce and abuses are said to be common.

However, Mr McDonald said he believed the BBC presenter, who was in Zimbabwe in a personal capacity, was being treated well.

Mr Trelawny was due to leave Zimbabwe today but it remains unclear whether he will be released in time to catch his flight.

Mr Trelawny was raised and educated in Cornwall and lives in central London.

He joined BBC Radio 3 in 1998 having begun his career at Radio Devon as a 19-year-old reporter and presenter.

In addition to presenting music on radio he has contributed to various publications including The Spectator, The Catholic Herald and The Irish Times.