Demonstrators storm SA High Commission, demand release of aircraft

HUNDREDS of demonstrators yesterday marched towards the South African High Commission in Dar es Salaam to push for the release of the country’s aircraft that was impounded at OR Tambo airport last Friday.

The March involved different groups of people including students, petty traders and others chanting slogans to express their grievances over the confiscation of the aircraft.

Information on who exactly organized for the demonstrations is still unknown but police were at hand to maintain law and order.

The Dar es Salaam Special Zone Commander Lazaro Mambosasa told reporters that the demos had no blessings of the police force.

Commander Mambosasa said officers had arrested some of the protest’s ringleaders.

He urged Tanzanians to remain calm and said that lawyers from Tanzania were in South Africa to secure the release of the plane that belonged to the national carrier.

One of the demonstrators who asked for anonymity said; “We have come to convey a peaceful message to our fellow South Africans to come out and intervene this issue, help us to release the impounded airplane.”

The demonstrators in Tanzania's main city of Dar es Salaam were chanting in Swahili: "We want our plane back."

Another protester carried a placard reading: “Remember we offered food, land and skills to your freedom fighters but today President Cyril Ramaphosa offers space for our enemies to beat us! Release our Air

“We just want at least for the embassy to come out and tell us what the government is doing to help release of the aircraft,” said Sadick Ramadhani, one of the protesters.

South African authorities impounded the Air Tanzania Airbus 220-3 on Friday following an order from the High Court in Johannesburg.

Hermanus Steyn, a retired farmer formerly owning Arusha-based Rift Valley Seed Company which the government nationalized in 1980’s availed that the seizure was because he had not been paid $33m (£28.8m) as compensation for his farm.

The move has caused anger in the East African nation, which was a key ally to South Africa's now-governing African National Congress (ANC) when it was fighting white-minority rule from the 1960s until the early 1990s.

The retired farmer was declared a prohibited immigrant in Tanzania after battling for years to get what was owed to him - the government reportedly only paid a portion of the compensation after the farm and all its equipment was seized

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