A plane belonging to Tanzania’s national carrier, Air Tanzania was impounded in South Africa’s Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport shortly after landing from Dar- es- Salaam, Tanzania over USD 33 million compensation claims.
The Airbus jet, valued at USD 99 million was caught in the storm over Tanzania’s failure to pay Namibian-born Tanzanian farm owner USD 33 million for land which Tanzania’s government nationalized 10 years ago.
In the 1990s, Tanzania’s government nationalized a massive, privately-owned farm, and took control of equipment, cars and more than 10 small planes from the farmer, who remains anonymous.
According to the farmer’s lawyer, Lawyer Roger Wakefield of Werksmans Attorneys, the farmer was awarded USD 33 million in compensation but he was paid only USD 20 million, he says that the balance of USD 16 million has accrued interest and it now stands at USD 33 million.
The plane was, thus seized according to an order by granted by the High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The lawyer said that the seizure is “to certify a long outstanding debt to the plaintiff which the government of Tanzania has always acknowledged was owing but they just breached their undertaking”.
“The only way that the aircraft can now be released is if they pay the debt or if they put up security for the claim.”
The Tanzanian government confirmed the seizure saying that “the plane was prevented from taking off by a decision of the High Court of Gauteng, Johannesburg” but noted that the government was working to resume the flights.
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