Monday, October 07, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Fraud rap Bredenkamp seeks acquittal
11/09/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

MILLIONAIRE business tycoon John Arnold Bredenkamp, on trial over an alleged US$4.2 million swindle, asked a judge to acquit him as the prosecution rested at the High Court in Harare on Tuesday.

Bredenkamp’s lawyers argued that prosecutors criminalised what is a civil matter between him and Yakub Ibrahim Mahommed, the former director of Sahawi International.

Advocate Eric Matinenga, while applying for Bredenkamp’s acquittal, said the prosecution team of Editor Mavuto, Michael Reza and Innocent Chingarande had woefully failed to establish the connection between Bredenkamp and the commission of any crime.

On a second charge of breaching the exchange control regulations, Advocate Matinenga said “no evidence was led in court to prove the essential elements of the crime”.

“This matter is purely civil and that the prosecution was a typical case in which a complainant used the criminal courts to recover a debt,” the lawyer said as he asked Justice Felistus Chatukuta to acquit Bredenkamp without putting him to his defence.

Prosecutors say Bredenkamp borrowed the money from Mahommed in 2001 on the pretext that he was going to finance his mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but used the money for personal use and failed to pay it back.

Bredenkamp, the court heard, had pledged to repay the money upon selling his mining company in the DRC. But after disposing of the company, prosecutors said Bredenkamp neglected to pay back the debt.

Mahommed told the High Court on Monday that the money that Bredenkamp had borrowed for his DRC mine had been used to finance Zimbabwe army supplies through Raceview Enterprises (Raceview).

“I later realised that the company (Raceview) was set up for providing a feeding programme for the Ministry of Defence,” he said.

Asked by Advocate Matinenga, who appeared together with Innocent Chagonda and Deepak Mehta, on where the misrepresentation which would constitute fraud was emanating from, Mahommed said when the businessman borrowed the money, it was on the basis that he was to fund his mining operations in the DRC but he discovered that Bredenkamp used the money to fund the army.

“At that particular time, I considered the accused to be a man of integrity, honesty and a man of means and my friend,” Mahommed said.

He only decided to take legal action against Bredenkamp in 2008 after he realised the businessman was failing to pay back the money, he said in his testimony.

The civil court proceedings were abandoned after an out-of-court settlement was proposed.

But Bredenkamp had failed to follow the terms of their agreement, forcing Mahommed to institute criminal proceedings.

He said the Attorney General’s office declined to prosecute the matter in 2009, on the basis that the case was civil in nature and that it involved national interest.

Mahommed said despite numerous requests for his money, Bredenkamp continued making excuses. To date, he only paid back US$400,000 in 2001.
Mahommed said Bredenkamp accused him of telling various people in the community that he had lent him money.

“One particular person was Billy Rautenbach. It was at that time that he and Rautenbach had a bad relationship,” Mahommed said.

For long, considered one of Britain and Europe’s richest men, Bredenkamp made a payment attempt in 2006, the court heard. But Mahommed said his bank returned the money, after it emerged that the businessman was under fraud investigations in the United Kingdom.

Mahommed said he lent Bredenkamp the money from proceeds of his Sahawi International (Private) Limited cigarette trading business in South Africa.

Bredenkamp – famous for his helicopter shuttles in Harare – had promised to pay back the money after disposing off his Kababankola Mining Company in the DRC.

In his founding affidavit submitted at the start of the trial, Bredenkamp denied defrauding Mahommed, claiming he did not borrow the money in his personal capacity.

“This prosecution is malicious and a gross abuse of the court’s process,” Bredenkamp said.

Justice Chatukuta will deliver a ruling on the defence application for a discharge on Wednesday.

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