‘Vagabond of God’ killed by Mugabe’s goons is on the path to ...


‘Vagabond of God’ killed by Mugabe’s goons is on the path to sainthood

Relatives of John Bradburne, a missionary murdered in Zimbabwe 40 years ago, are nearing their goal

Joe Shute

In September 1979, a British missionary was marched off his mountain in Zimbabwe and murdered. John Bradburne, the son of a Cumbrian vicar, who served with the Gurkhas in Malaya in World War 2, had arrived 10 years earlier in what was then Rhodesia and settled in a leper colony at Mutemwa, a few hours west of the capital, Harare.

Instantly recognisable from his red headband and shaggy beard, plus his upper-middle-class English manners, the 58-year-old was devoted to prayer and poetry. His willingness to care for lepers – who prior to his arrival had been locked away and forced to wear sacks over their heads to prevent infection spreading – had already persuaded the locals that a special man was in their midst.

Such exalted status was not enough to save him when rebel guerrillas loyal to revolutionary leader Robert Mugabe kidnapped him during the former British colony’s liberation war. Bradburne was tortured by his captors and urged to leave the country. When he refused, he was shot in the back and dumped in a dried-up riverbed...

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