Two homes and a superyacht belonging to Equatorial Guinea’s vice president have been seized in South Africa after a local businessman sued for unlawful arrest and torture, a lawyer said Monday.
A high court ordered the seizure of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue’s properties, along with his superyacht docked in Cape Town.
The orders arose from a lawsuit by South African businessman Daniel Janse van Rensburg.
According to the lawyer, he had been unlawfully detained and tortured for 491 days in a notorious Equatorial Guinea jail when a business deal went sour in 2013.
“We attached (seized) two houses…in Cape Town in a formal application two weeks ago and the superyacht last Tuesday,” lawyer Errol Eldson, told reporters. An application to auction the assets has been filed.
A Cape Town high court in 2021 ordered Obiang — the son of the iron-fisted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — to pay Janse van Rensburg around 40 million rand ($2.2 million) in damages.
The lawyer said his client had been hired by an Equatorial Guinea politician, Gabriel Angabi, “to set up an airline” in the oil-rich but impoverished country.
After nearly two years of setting up the airline and “everything in place and aircrafts were ready to start flying”, the businessman was called by Angabi for what he assumed would be the airline launch, according to Eldson.
“When he got there, Angabi said ‘we don’t want to do this anymore, we want our money back’,” said the lawyer.
Having spent all the money on the project, Janse van Rensburg failed to refund Angabi, who is allegedly related to the first family.
“He picked up the phone to vice president Obiang and within 10 minutes the rapid force intervention was there… they picked Daniel up and threw him into Black Beach prison”.
In his memoir published in September, Janse Van Rensburg wrote “what was supposed to be a short business trip to Equatorial Guinea turned into a journey to the depths of hell.”
Obiang’s furniture from his two residences in Cape Town’s affluent suburbs have already been auctioned.
His lawyer Victor Nkhwashu refused to comment.
Obiang’s father, 80-year-old father is the longest-serving head of state alive today, excluding monarchs.
He seized power in August 1979, toppling his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, who was then executed by firing squad.
Firmly suppressing dissent and surviving a string of attempted coups, he has remained at the helm of the oil-rich central African state ever since.
He has long been considered to be grooming his son, usually called Teodorin, to be his successor.
However, the scion’s image has been stained by a playboy reputation and scandals abroad over assets suspected to have been acquired illegally.
France, Britain and the United States have ordered him to forfeit millions of dollars in assets, from mansions to luxury cars, while France also handed him a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of 30 million euros (dollars).
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