SA Sheriff seizes Equatorial Guinea dictator’s luxury Cape assets

Equitorial Guinea Vice-President Teodoro Obiang


The vice-president of Equatorial Guinea may soon have to give up his luxury yacht and furniture from two Cape mansions to pay back R39 million to a southern Cape businessperson.

Daniel Janse van Rensburg sued Vice-President Teodoro Obiang after he (Janse van Rensburg) was unlawfully detained in prison for 549 days in 2013 when a business deal with Obiang’s uncle went awry.

Janse van Rensburg was held in the notorious Black Beach prison for 423 days of his detention.

Obiang has used numerous legal processes in South Africa, including an application to the Constitutional Court, to try to avoid being ordered to pay the damages to Janse van Rensburg.

His latest attempt failed last Friday when the Cape Town High Court refused to set aside a default judgment against him.

Almost immediately after the court order had been signed and stamped, the sheriff seized Obiang’s superyacht Blue Shadow at quay No 2 in the Cape Town harbour on Tuesday.

A luxury superyacht belonging to the vice-president of Equatorial Guinea has been seized. Photo: supplied

This 67m-long vessel will be sold at a public auction. Furniture from two luxury homes in Cape Town was also seized to offset Obiang’s debts.

Obiang’s latest application was an appeal against the high court’s earlier refusal to set aside a default sentence that Janse van Rensburg had obtained against him.

The default sentence had been granted because Obiang had not cooperated in the litigation process, as required by court rules. Obiang’s defence against Janse van Rensburg’s claim was struck off.

In his court documents, Janse van Rensburg described his experience in the Black Beach prison as “hell”. He stated that Obiang had had him jailed for no reason after a business deal with the vice-president’s uncle had gone south.

Van Rensburg was assaulted and tortured during his detention. He also witnessed fellow prisoners being tortured, raped and executed, he stated in his court documents.

After his release in August 2017, he sued Obiang in the Cape Town High Court.

Since Obiang is a foreign national, Van Rensburg first had to have his assets in South Africa seized so that the local courts could exercise jurisdiction.

This process led to several court cases, as Obiang opposed it.

When the case was finally on track, Obiang simply failed to do what he was obliged to do in terms of court procedure.

His lawyers filed a notice with the court that they were withdrawing from the case and said Janse van Rensburg should thereafter deliver court documents to the embassy of Equatorial Guinea.

Janse van Rensburg complied with this instruction. However, when Obiang did not respond, the Cape Town High Court granted a default sentence.

Obiang then went to court again to have the default sentence set aside. He argued that he had never received the documentation informing him that the trial was proceeding.

The court did not accept this and refused to set aside the default sentence. Obiang appealed against that decision as well.

Two of the three judges, Derek Wille and André le Grange, dismissed the appeal with costs. The third judge who heard the case, Daniel Thulare, disagreed with his colleagues and maintained that Obiang had indeed not been given sufficient notice before the default sentence was granted.

However, the majority ruling was binding, so the order against Obiang remains in force.

Wille and Le Grange said in their judgment that Obiang had deliberately taken a “head-in-the-sand” approach to frustrate Janse van Rensburg. Yet when Janse van Rensburg had had Obiang’s assets seized for the first time, the vice-president had acted promptly in participating in the litigation proceedings.

Janse van Rensburg, who lives in Hoekwil, George, welcomed the court’s ruling.


About Post Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *