The civil trial of business tycoon John Arnold Bredenkamp began at the High Court yesterday with the applicant, Yaqub Ibrahim Mohammed, telling High Court judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba that he had lent the prominent businessman $3,8 million allegedly to support Zimbabwean troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo 15 years ago.
by CHARLES LAITON
Mohammed said since borrowing the money, sometime in 2002, Bredenkamp made several promises to repay, including writing acknowledgements of debt through his lawyers, but nothing had materialised.
Mohammed also told the court at one point he approached law enforcement agents and placed fraud charges against the tycoon. But when the matter was taken to the then Attorney-General Johannes Tomana prosecution was declined on the grounds that Bredenkamp was an ally of the government.
“Because of his [Tomana’s] initial reluctance to prosecute him [Bredenkamp], we had a meeting with my legal counsel Jonathan Samukange after he applied for private prosecution, which was denied by Tomana and he stated clearly that he was under pressure not to prosecute him,” Mohammed said.
Asked to explain further by his lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, what Tomana said, Mohammed said: “He [Tomana] mentioned it was political and that the defendant [Bredenkamp] was involved in the system of the country and the military and as a result of that, he [Bredenkamp] was under sanctions and that it was in the public interest not to prosecute him.”
As the trial progressed, Mohammed told the court Bredenkamp, at one point, made efforts to repay him through his trustees in the United Kingdom, but when the money [$3,5 million] was deposited into his [Mohammed’s] account in the United States, it was not accepted.
“When I explained to my bank that the money had come from Bredenkamp, the transaction was reversed,” Mohammed said and when asked why that was so he replied: “I suppose it was because he was under investigation in the UK for serious frauds, I believe that is why the money was returned.”
Mohammed told the court since the money was returned, Bredenkamp had not made any other effort to pay back except to make promises that he intended to sell his properties in Mozambique and South Africa to raise the money to settle the debt.
In 2014, Bredenkamp was charged with fraud following Mohammed’s report, but the High Court acquitted him of the criminal charges, saying the matter was of a civil nature.
The trial continues today.