Family members of the late business tycoon John Bredenkamp are tussling for control of his multi-million-dollar estate amid indications the fight will go into the courts, it emerged this week.
The tycoon had interest in, among others, tobacco, arms dealings and wildlife, and succumbed to suspected kidney failure aged 79.
Business Times is informed that a fight has since erupted within the family following revelations that one of his sons, Gavin, evicted his mother Jenny Bredenkamp at the family’s Mazowe farm and residence.
Bredenkamp had four children, two boys and two girls while the wife stayed in Cape Town, South Africa. This latest fight has come as a shock to the family, according to people close to developments.
A well-placed source told this publication that the fight is so nasty that the family has since engaged legal representatives to file an urgent chamber application at the High Court.
“Following the death of John, his son Gavin just came at the Mazowe farm and residence and evicted everyone there including the mother. This prompted endless meetings which failed to culminate in an amicable agreement. The lawyers representing Jenny and Gavin’s siblings will be filing an urgent chamber application at the High Court most probably this week,” the source said.
The family’s lawyer Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook said he was not in a position to comment.
“Thanks for your follow-up. I have not received further instructions from my clients regarding your request, and am therefore unable, due to ethical reasons, to comment on the matter,” Mhike told Business Times.
Born in Kimberly, South Africa in 1940, Bredenkamp moved to the then Southern Rhodesia with his parents. He became one of Zimbabwe’s richest people and was a controversial billionaire businessman who captained the national rugby side before independence.
Reports suggest that Bredenkamp gained considerable clout in the political and economic affairs of Zimbabwe, and is believed to have been a key donor of various political parties in Zimbabwe.
The reports also say Bredenkamp exploited various opportunities early, running Rhodesian tobacco past United Nations embargoes using a network of complex barter deals to buy guns and ammunition for the Rhodesian armed forces.
Bredenkamp is alleged to have assisted numerous pariah states to bust sanctions and the tycoon allegedly managed to find favour in the inner circle of Ian Smith’s government and that of former president, Robert Mugabe.
According to reports the tycoon admitted to having assisted the Smith government in the 1970s, to break international sanctions in order to ensure that the Smith regime remained armed.
Despite this history, Bredenkamp was able to form a relationship with Mugabe’s government.
The relationship reportedly included the provision of financial and logistical support and a role in the Democratic Republic of Congo war between 1998 and 2003.
The relationship resulted in Bredenkamp being added to the United States sanctions list, a decision which the European Union and Switzerland shortly followed.
He was eventually removed from the European sanctions list.
Bredenkamp was also on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions list. The embargo was lifted after his death.