Bredenkamp’s death was announced by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) on Thursday. The millionaire businessman captained the national rugby team before independence. In a statement, ZRU said,
“It is with a heavy and sad heart that the president of the ZRU announces the sad passing of our former Sables player and captain John Bredenkamp this morning,” the ZRU said in a statement.
“May his family and friends be comforted during this sad time. The ZRU is at a loss for words on the passing of our former skipper. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Bredenkamp was born in Kimberly, South Africa in 1940 and moved to then Southern Rhodesia as a child. After attending Prince Edward School in Harare, Bredenkamp started his career in the tobacco industry.
The businessman later started his own company and became infamous for busting the sanctions which were imposed on the Rhodesian government of Ian Smith following the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965. Bredenkamp’s companies were involved in the sale of Rhodesian tobacco on world markets, through evasion of United Nations sanctions. His company is reported to have grown to become the 5th biggest tobacco merchant in the world by 1993 when he sold it.
According to online publication Zimlive,
Bredenkamp was named in a 2002 United Nations report as a key arms trader who made millions of dollars from illegally exploiting natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a military intervention by Zimbabwe to stop a rebel-led overthrow of the late former president Desire Kabila.
…Bredenkamp gained considerable clout in the political and economic affairs of Zimbabwe and is believed to have been a key donor for the ruling Zanu PF party.
He was particularly close to the late President Mugabe.