High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi has issued a court order, authorising the Sheriff or his Deputy to impound Air Namibia’s planes and attach office equipment at Joina City in Harare, pending an application for damages by a Zimbabwean family which was denied access to travel to Turkey by airline officials.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Justice Chitapi’s order, dated June 26, 2018, was granted after Chenjerai Mawumba, his wife Juliana Magombedze and their three children approached the court, seeking an order to confirm and/or find the jurisdiction for the High Court of Zimbabwe in the family’s $1 million litigation against Air Namibia.

“Respondent shall be liable for the sheriff of the High Court or his lawful deputy’s costs of storage of the property attached by the Sheriff’s office pursuant to this order as well as any other costs arising from the said attachment,” the judge ruled.

The impasse between the Mawumbas and Air Namibia started in February last year after the former was denied access to travel to Europe.

On January 31, 2017, the Turkish consulate issued the Mawumba family visas for travel to Turkey.

On February 15, Mawumba purchased five economy class tickets for air carriage by Air Namibia to Istanbul.

On the same date, the family boarded Air Namibia at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare bound for Windhoek en-route to Turkey through Frankfurt, Germany.

However, upon arrival at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Mawumba said his family was advised by Air Namibia officials that they were not permitted to travel to Turkey because of their Zimbabwean nationality.

“This communication was made in the most racist, arbitrary and extemporary fashion I have ever countenanced,” he said, adding: “For the record, it is imperative to note that the denial of access to our flight to Europe was done by the respondents’ officials, and not by Namibian or Turkish immigration authorities.”

“The decision to bar us from travelling to Turkey was not accompanied by any meaningful or lawful reasons and we were not permitted to make any representations to assert our freedom of movement.”

Mawumba further said his family was detained at the airport for close to three days without being offered food and accommodation, adding “we endured the most horrifying time of our lives without the slightest access to basic amenities”.