Tanzania: Fate of Air Tanzania Plane Seized in South Africa to Be Known Tomorrow

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(File photo).

Dar es Salaam — A South African court will tomorrow, September 4, rule whether to release an Air Tanzania (ATCL) plane seized two weeks ago over a debt claim against the Tanzania government.

The court, sitting in Gauteng Lower Division, is hearing the contested case of the Airbus A220-300 that was impounded during a scheduled flight to Johannesburg.

Tanzania government which owns the aircraft argues that the plane was illegally held and wants it released.

The farmer Hermanus Steyn successfully sought the order to withhold the aircraft to force payment which he says is owed to him by the Tanzania government which nationalized his farms in 1982.

Sources privy to the case told The Citizen this evening that Judge Wepener has summoned the parties in the case to appear before him tomorrow at 1000Hrs South African time.

The ruling will come exactly a fortnight since the aircraft was seized at the OR Tambo International Airport following a court order which was issued by the same court on August 23.

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On Friday, August 30, lawyers representing Tanzania in the case asked the court to quash the order that led to the seizure the Airbus A220- 300, arguing that it was wrongly granted.

The Tanzanian defense team represented by Victor Nkhwashu Attorney Inc argued that the South African court did not have the jurisdiction to hear this case.

"The order can only be executed on the Tanzania soil as confirmed by Judge B.K.Phillip of the Tanzania Commercial Courts, because there is already a court order in Tanzania," said Mr Nkhwashu.

Part of the Tanzanian which was dispatched on August 26, included Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Damas Ndumbaro, Principal State Attorney Vincent Tango, Principal State Attorney Gabriel Malata and State attorney from ATCL Job Mrema

On the other hand, Roger Wakefield who is representing Mr Hermanus Steyn insists that a Prima facie case exists and that a trial court should determine the merits of the case and prospects of success.

According to Steyn's lawyer, Mr Wakefield, the test for a prima facie have been satisfied.

Mr Steyn's case dates back to 1982 when the government of Tanzania nationalised of his farm and other properties.

The properties included Rift Valley Seed Ltd, Hashman Estate Ltd, Lente Estate Ltd, Loldebis Ltd, Mayoka Estate Ltd, and Tanganyika Air Ltd.

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