A Zimbabwean man is trying to sue Air Namibia for $1m after airline officials allegedly barred him and his family from travelling to Turkey.
The pending court action saw an Air Namibia plane impounded in Harare on Friday, disrupting travel plans for dozens of Windhoek-bound passengers.
‘Pain, suffering and trauma’
Harare High Court Judge Tawanda Chitapi authorised the sheriff of the court to attach Air Namibia’s property, including planes, pending the finalisation of the case in which Zimbabwean family man Chenjerai Mawumba is suing the airline for "pain, suffering and trauma".
According to court papers, Mawumba, his wife and three children were barred from travelling to Turkey via Windhoek and Frankfurt in February 2017. He says he and his family were detained at Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport for two days, then deported back to Zimbabwe.
“We were advised by Air Namibia officials that we were not permitted to travel to Turkey as planned because of our Zimbabwean nationality,” Mawumba alleges in court papers quoted by the private Daily News.
He said they were told this “in the most racist, arbitrary and extemporary fashion” by airline officials.
According to the Daily News, Mawumba found out later that Air Namibia had “a policy of denying Zimbabweans and other nationalities access to Europe in a bid to save itself from paying fines imposed by Germany authorities for the conveyance of illegal passengers”.
The paper added: “While the airline was aware of this policy, it still accepted his flight payments.”
As a result of Mawumba's court action, an Air Namibia plane was impounded by the sheriff of the court in Harare on Friday, reports New Zimbabwe.
The 38 passengers were only able to fly out on Saturday after it emerged the plane had been leased from another airline.
“By law, leased equipment is not subject to attachment,” Air Namibia spokesperson Paul Nakawa was quoted as saying.