LONDON – Back in late August 2019, the South African Authorities had seized an Air Tanzania Airbus A220-300 aircraft, registered as 5H-TCH.

At the time, the aircraft was operating flight TC208/ATC208 to Johannesburg, South Africa but never did the return flight TC209/ATC209 back to the airlines home base in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Since this incident, the airline has not flown to Johannesburg, they had suspended all flights between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg to resolve a debt request regarding an elderly farmer by the name of Hermanus Steyn, who was owed $33 million in compensation from the Tanzanian Government after the government had taken property from the gentleman for public use which happened over several decades ago. 

Following a lengthy court debate, the Gauteng Lower Division Court based in Johannesburg ordered for the aircraft to be released.

Shortly after its release, Air Tanzania announced that it would re-start the flights between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg from 6th September 2019, which operates every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

In his ruling of this case, Judge Twala stated, “I am of the considered view that the arbitration award ceased to exist on 3rd May 2011 after it made a court order. I hold the view that when the parties concluded the deed of settlement, the compromise it was in relation to the court order of 3rd May 2011 and there was no arbitration award in existence at the time.”

Twala further added that he was in an agreement with the Government of Tanzania that an opinion of a lawyer cannot trump the judgement of the court, which remains binding and enforceable until it is concluded.

Twala continued, “I am therefore satisfied that this court does not have jurisdiction to attach the property of the client to confirm or found jurisdiction based on a court order of a foreign court”.

Following this ruling, the aircraft that was seized, 5H-TCH, flew back to Dar es Salaam on 4th September 2019 under flight and callsign TC209/ATC209 leaving Johannesburg at 16:05 pm local time and arriving back into Dar es Salaam at 21:20 pm local time.