CONTROVERSIAL tycoon John Bredenkamp was yesterday acquitted on charges of holding two passports.
However, the future of his business empire in Zimbabwe is under threat as warring Zanu PF camps battle to secure his backing in their bid to
succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Bredenkamp was arrested two months ago on charges of possessing a South African passport that he acquired in 2001.
Bredenkamp’s lawyer, Advocate Eric Matinenga, said his client had been acquitted on the basis that he had never used his South African passport to leave or enter Zimbabwe and that the country’s laws could not apply outside the country.
“The section under which Bredenkamp was charged does not have extra-territorial applications,” Matinenga said.
Sources in the farming community said Zanu PF had set its eyes on taking over Bredenkamp’s highly mechanised Thetford Estate as punishment for his “intransigence”.
Bredenkamp appears to have rubbed the ruling elite up the wrong way when he was suspected to be linked to one of Zanu PF’s factions battling to win a long-running succession struggle.
He was cited as a financier of his erstwhile ally Emmerson Mnangagwa in a report allegedly compiled for President Mugabe by former State Security minister Nicholas Goche in the wake of the Tsholotsho meeting in November 2004.
It was alleged that he had provided billions of dollars to fund Mnangagwa’s campaign to become vice-president and eventually to succeed Mugabe.
Bredenkamp has denied the claims but senior Zanu PF officials, in particular the faction led by retired army commander, General Solomon Mujuru, continue to view him with suspicion.
Thetford Estate is now under threat. It is understood to have been subdivided into plots for A2 farmers.
Breco Holdings corporate affairs director, Costa Pafitis, refused to comment on renewed efforts by government to seize Bredenkamp’s estate.
“I have no comment on the issue,” Pafitis said.
“When we are prepared to comment on any developments here we will call you.”
Breco Holding is Bredenkamp’s investment vehicle with diverse economic interests in a number of countries.
Thetford Estate, a 1 300-hectare holding in the Mazowe Valley, is a densely stocked wildlife paradise and a registered conservancy, breeding a variety of wildlife species, though numbers have been dwindling since the launch of the land reform programme in 2000.
Bredenkamp bought Thetford Estate from the Gulliver family in 1999 after obtaining a certificate of no interest from government. In September 2000 the farm received a Section 5 order, which was withdrawn in October of that year after representations from Bredenkamp that the farm did not qualify for resettlement because it was highly industrialised and had huge investments on it.
In March 2002 the farm was again listed and since then war veterans have often disrupted operations.
Out of the 1 300 hectares, 40 hectares are arable and the rest is used as a game park. Bredenkamp is understood to be leasing a farm next to Thetford for his horticulture venture.