A Gauteng High Court in South Africa has ordered the release of a Tanzanian government-owned A220-300 following its seizure at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo on Friday, August 23.

A government spokesman said following a hearing on Wednesday, September 4, that the plaintiff Hermanus Steyn had been ordered to pay costs as well. For its part, Air Tanzania was forced to suspend its Dar es Salaam-Johannesburg O.R. Tambo route for the duration of proceedings.

Steyn secured a court order in August allowing him to seize 5H-TCH (msn 55047), which, while operated by Air Tanzania (TC, Dar es Salaam), is owned by TGF - Tanzania Government Flight, over a dispute over compensation from the Tanzanian government for property it had seized from him over 30 years ago.

According to Business Day newspaper, during a nationalisation drive in 1982, Tanzania expropriated a large privately-owned bean-and-seed farm from Steyn, a Namibia-born farmer, seizing everything including equipment, 250 cars, and 12 small planes.

Steyn was subsequently awarded USD36 million in compensation in the 1990s but was only paid USD20 million. The outstanding USD16 million was never paid but continued to accrue interest leaving the total amount due at USD33 million.

The report said Steyn, now an 86-year-old grandfather, has been fighting for years to recover the outstanding amount.

According to The Citizen newspaper, during an August 30 hearing, the Tanzanians successfully argued that the South African court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the 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," Victor Nkhwashu, a lawyer for the Tanzanians, said.

On the other hand, Steyn's lawyer, Roger Wakefield, had insisted that a prima facie case exists and that a trial should be used to determine the merits of the case and prospects of success.