Sunday Times E-Edition

Obiang’s superyacht seized in Cape Town


● A luxury superyacht worth about R300m, reportedly owned by Equatorial Guinea’s vice-president, has been seized at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town where it was docked for repairs.

This week’s attachment order granted by the high court in Cape Town follows a recent court ruling against Teodorin “Teddy” Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is embroiled in litigation with a South African businessman who spent almost 18 months in an Equatorial Guinea prison a decade ago without being charged with a crime.

Daniel Janse van Rensburg said Obiang, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, had ordered his incarceration, during which he was “brutalised” and from which he emerged “permanently physically impaired, psychologically shattered and unable to earn a living”.

In 2021 Janse van Rensburg was awarded R40m in a damages claim for torture. He is trying to get the money by having the vicepresident’s assets attached.

Last year the sheriff of the court attached Obiang’s furniture — sold by judicial auction

— at his mansion in Bishopscourt. Now the 66m yacht, Blue Shadow, has been added to the list of seized assets.

Janse van Rensburg’s imprisonment was sparked by a falling out over a failed aviation deal. He wrote a book about the ordeal, which included almost 500 days in the notorious Black Beach prison.

“The yacht Blue Shadow was attached with her cargo,” said Rejoyce Ndingi on behalf of the sheriff’s office.

The vessel is berthed at an access-controlled quay. “Yes, we have Blue Shadow here and the [vessel] agent has confirmed there has been an arrest,” said V&A spokesperson Donald Kau.

The writ of execution names Obiang, but the Sunday Times was unable to reach him for comment.

Theo Verreynne, branch manager of vessel agent Del Shipping, said the company was unable to comment.

Several people were aboard during a visit on Thursday. Jet skis were on the deck.

Blue Shadow, built in 1995, boasts 11 cabins and space for 22 crew, and carries three smaller boats, including a catamaran. It was previously available for charter at R3.5m a week.

Boating sources say it has been in Cape Town for a while, undergoing repairs.

Three years ago the 76m Ebony Shine, one of three superyachts reportedly owned by Obiang, left Cape Town shortly after the Sunday Times made enquiries.

The vessel has twice been attached — and released — in recent years as lawyers battle to seize Obiang’s assets in relation to an embezzlement case and an Interpol arrest warrant validated by the International Court of Justice, according to media reports.

Assets that have featured in Obiang court proceedings include a Parisian mansion worth about $100m (about R1.8bn), 25 sports cars including a rare Lamborghini, and a collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Blue Shadow is due to be sold at judicial auction, according to the writ of execution.

It is unclear if Obiang or Equatorial Guinea will challenge the attachment. Papers found aboard indicated the vessel is registered in the name of Maritime Support, a company in the Marshall Islands. Documents also linked it to the defence ministry of Equatorial Guinea.

Janse van Rensburg is frustrated by the protracted court battle. “We always think [the case] is over and then they appeal again,” he said. “It would be nice if we could put this behind us. I keep on having to sign affidavits and relive everything again.”

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