Pretty Yende: SA seeks answers from France


THE ill-treatment of world acclaimed South African soprano Pretty Yende at the hands of the French Police has become a diplomatic incident.

The South African government has summoned France’s Ambassador to SA to convey its displeasure at the treatment of Yende at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport on Monday.

According to SA’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), the SA Embassy in Paris has also written to the French authorities, seeking an explanation and requesting a thorough investigation into the matter.

Yende was detained at the Charles De Gaulle International Airport based on an allegation that her Italian residence permit was not invalid. “Ms Yende informed the South African Embassy in Paris that she was verbally abused by the police and her rights and dignity were violated during the ordeal. The unfortunate incident took place during Yende’s return to Paris to perform at the Theatre Des Champ-Elysees,” Dirco said in a statement.

Despite her humiliation by the French Police, Yende went on to deliver a sterling performance, leading to a standing ovation and applause.

Said one attendee, Didier Eribon on Twitter: “Extraordinary ovation for @Pretty Yende tonight at @TCEOPERA after a magnificent “Somnabula”. Brutalized by the French Police at the airport yesterday, acclaimed by the public this evening. she is overcome with emotion.”

Yende took to social media where she shared her unpleasant experience at the hands of the French Police, who forced her to submit to a body search.

Yende said the ordeal lasted more than two hours at the Charles de Gaulle Airport on Monday. “I felt stripped of my human dignity,” she said.

She accused the French police of racial discriimiantion after she was held in a dark room, trip searched and subjected to offensive racial comments as well as harsh and condescending tones. 

In her social media posts, Yende said once she was detained, her belongings were taken from her. She was left in a dark room and instructed to write down the phone numbers of family and friends.  

Yender said during her ordeal, she had many negative thoughts. “I am still shaken, thinking that I am one in a million who managed to come out of that situation alive.

A French official told local media that Yende was held and questioned because she held a South African passport and did not possess a French visa to enter the country.

Yende has denied reports this. She said: “I’d like to clarify that I did have all the necessary documents that permit me to move freely and work since 2009. I have an unlimited permesso di soggiorno (Italian Residency Permit) which is being renewed and permesso di soggiorno improvvisorio (temporaray residence), which I presented to the police at the border control…I did not need a visa to enter or work and of the European countries, including France,” Yende said.


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