‘Unlawful’: superyacht owners hit back as Blue Shadow leaves Cape Town

27 February 2023 - 18:16
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Blue Shadow at the V&A Waterfront where it was attached by court order.
Blue Shadow at the V&A Waterfront where it was attached by court order.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Superyacht Blue Shadow which left Cape Town on Sunday after being attached by court order, then released says it was “unlawfully attached”.

Maritime Support Ltd, a private company registered in the Marshall Islands, says it is now considering a damages claim in relation to the unlawful attachment.

Blue Shadow was detained at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront earlier this month after a writ of execution for attachment obtained by South African businessman Daniel Janse van Rensburg.

The attachment was the latest salvo in a years-long legal contest between Janse van Rensburg and Equatorial Guinea’s vice-president Teodorin Obiang. In 2021 Janse van Rensburg won a R40m legal damages claim against Obiang, whom he held responsible for his imprisonment in the West African country in 2013 and 2014. He emerged “permanently physically impaired and psychologically shattered.”

Obiang is the son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang and leads a lavish lifestyle, chronicled on social media. He has consistently denied involvement in Janse van Rensburg’s business dealings. 

In terms of the writ of execution, the sheriff of the high court in Cape Town was instructed to sell Blue Shadow at judicial auction to realise the outstanding damages claim.

But the vessel was released after a response from a Cape Town legal firm representing Maritime Support. “On February 10, 2023 the owners of the vessel requested from Daniel Janse van Rensburg the supporting evidence or documents which led them to this unlawful action but none were provided, only a response on February 16 to concede to the release of the vessel,” Maritime Support said in a statement. “The vessel was formally released on February 21 and has now departed after great financial and reputational prejudice caused by this unlawful action.

“The owners of the vessel Blue Shadow are now considering options to seek damages caused by this unlawful action.”

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that Janse van Rensburg had relinquished his claim to the Blue Shadow, saying he did not want to be the possible cause of the incarceration of two South Africans detained on alleged drug charges in Equatorial Guinea, after the yacht was attached at the V&A Waterfront.

A Twitter account purporting to be that of Teodorin Obiang has posted regularly on the impasse over the vessel, most recently on Sunday when the yacht was seen leaving Cape Town. The author claimed the vessel belongs to the defence ministry in Equatorial Guinea.

A spokesman representing Daniel Janse van Rensburg said documents found aboard the vessel, together with statements from crew members, supported their contention that the yacht in truly belongs to Teodorin Obiang.

He said the decision to withdraw their legal action, was based on pragmatic considerations relating to sensitive issues, particularly in so far as it affected South Africans working in Equatorial Guinea.


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