By Daniel Nemukuyu
BUSINESS tycoon Mr John Arnold Bredenkamp was on Thursday acquitted in the US$4,2 million fraud case. High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta also cleared the businessman of flouting exchange control regulations.
Mr Bredenkamp was accused of misrepresenting to former Sahawi International director Mr Yakub Ibrahim Mahommed that he was borrowing the money to finance his mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but put the money to personal use and failed to pay it back.
The State also alleged that Mr Bredenkamp misrepresented to Mr Mahommed that he would pay back the borrowed money upon selling his mining company in the DRC.
In acquitting Mr Bredenkamp at the close of the prosecution’s case, Justice Chatukuta blasted the Attorney-General’s Office for bowing down to pressure from Mr Yakubu Mahommed, who was the complainant in the case, to prosecute a matter that was purely civil.
Justice Chatukuta ruled that the AG’s Office dismally failed to prove a case against Mr Bredenkamp and that the allegations were totally divorced from the charges preferred.
The judge found that the evidence of Mr Mahommed was unreliable as he failed to disclose that he had been paid US$400 000 as part payment of the US$4,2 million he was owed.
The AG’s Office, after declining to prosecute the same case twice because it was civil, Justice Chatukuta said it decided to take the matter to court to the satisfaction of the persistent complainant. Justice Chatukuta said the conduct of the prosecuting authority in the matter amounted to an abrogation of the office’s duty.
The court said the Prosecutor General, according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, should not be subject to the direction or pressure from anyone. Justice Chatukuta agreed with the defence lawyers’ position that Mr Mahommed was abusing the criminal court process to recover a debt.
Former Constitutional Affairs Minister Advocate Eric Matinenga, Adv Deepak Mehta and Mr Innocent Chagonda were representing Mr Bredenkamp in the matter.
That was Adv Matinenga’s first criminal trial after leaving the ministerial office. Mr Editor Mavuto, Mr Michael Reza and Mr Innocent Chingarande appeared for the State.
When he sold the company, it is the State’s case that Bredenkamp never paid the debt. Mr Mahommed claimed the money he lent to Bredenkamp had been realised from cigarettes sales.
It is the State’s case that after realising that Mr Mohammed could finance him, Bredenkamp in 2001, approached him and requested for a loan which he was given at 6 percent interest per annum, capitalised monthly.
It was the State’s case that the whole transaction took place at Bredenkamp’s office at number 124 Josiah Chinamano Avenue, Harare. The State alleged Bredenkamp did not pay back until this year, when criminal proceedings were instituted against him.
Bredenkamp was also being charged with borrowing foreign currency from an unauthorised dealer without authority from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Justice Chatukuta acquitted Mr Bredenkamp after hearing the State’s case and found it unnecessary to put the business mogul to his defence.
Source: The Herald