Johannesburg - Slain chairman of First Tech Group Jeff Wiggill may have orchestrated his own murder.
The police are investigating the theory that Wiggill paid a man being held for his murder R100 000 to take him out, The Star has learnt.
The case that seems to mirror that of businessman Brett Kebble, who hired men to kill him in 2005, will be handed over to the Hawks.
One of the men arrested for Wiggill’s murder, Thulani Cele, told the Protea Magistrate’s Court in his bail application that he was going to be paid R100 000 to kill Wiggill, but it was not confirmed where that money was to come from. Cele was released on R10 000 bail on July 15.
Wiggill was found by the police early on June 20, with gunshot wounds to the head.
The father of five had been found in Randfontein Road in Protea Glen, with his black Bentley just metres away from his body. Only his wallet and cellphone were stolen.
It is understood that Wiggill had been travelling near Melrose Arch when he was apparently hijacked and taken to Soweto - mirroring Kebble’s own shooting in his car near Melrose Arch.
Kebble planned his own murder to appear as a botched hijacking, during a period when his massive group of mining companies was under extreme financial pressure.
Similarly Wiggill’s company First Tech Group - which traded as First Strut - was provisionally liquidated earlier this month, and it was revealed in media reports this week that several of South Africa’s biggest banks had a potential R925 million default on their hands.
Business Report revealed on Friday that Investec had loaned R240m to the ailing company, while Standard Bank had a performance guarantee facility with First Strut worth more than R103m. The publication also revealed that Rand Merchant Bank was the lead manager for the sale of the business’s R925m bond.
The police previously said that Wiggill’s finances and those of First Tech Group appeared to be linked to his killing, and the company’s debt has now been confirmed.
In documents seen by The Star, the board of directors chose to apply for business rescue on July 4, saying the firm would no longer be able to pay its debt. But it was almost a week after the board’s decision that business rescue practitioners were actually assigned.
Wiggill’s death had triggered numerous internal probes at the company, First Tech Group chief executive Andy Bertulis said in his statement while applying for business rescue.
“Since the demise of Mr Wiggill, it has become necessary to unravel a number of complex and intricate financial transactions concluded for and on behalf of the group,” he said.
The group was responsible for buying out Cosira, a company contracted to provide steel for the forthcoming Medupi power station, which has been marred by construction delays.
In June, Cosira applied for voluntary business rescue - which failed - and it was provisionally liquidated.
Bertulis’s statement said Wiggill was solely responsible for the financial affairs of the group, but an executive at the company told The Star, on condition of anonymity, that this was not true.
The executive insisted that the company was involved in several fraudulent transactions, and that this had led to its downfall.
In spite of this, provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the commercial crimes unit had not become involved. This could change as the Hawks take over, it is understood.