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First Strut Chairman’s Murder Was Contract Killing, Star Reports

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July 26 (Bloomberg) -- The murder of First Strut Ltd. Chairman Jeff Wiggill was a “hit,” the Johannesburg-based Star reported, citing one of the men arrested for his shooting.

The man told the Protea Magistrate’s Court in his bail application that he was going to be paid 100,000 rand ($10,262) to kill Wiggill, the newspaper reported. The man, who was released on bail on July 15, said he didn’t know where the money was coming from, the Star reported.

Calls to the court in Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg, by Bloomberg News weren’t answered. Paul Ramaloko, a spokesman for the investigations unit of the South African Police Service, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone today.

Wiggill, 59 was found last month next to his car in Soweto with bullet wounds to his head, the South African Press Association reported June 20. While his wallet and mobile phone were missing, the motive for the killing was unknown, SAPA said, citing police captain, Augustinah Selepe.

First Strut, a manufacturer supplying the transport, mining and power industries, was placed in provisional liquidation on July 16, said John Louw, business rescue practitioner for the 5,000-person firm. First Strut, which owes Investec Plc 240 million rand and Absa Group Ltd. 30 million rand, has 925 million rand of floating-rate notes outstanding, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Police are investigating the possibility that Wiggill arranged his own murder, according to the Star.

On the night of Sept. 27, 2005, South African mining magnate Brett Kebble was shot seven times in his silver Mercedes S600 in Johannesburg. The trial five years later of one of his alleged killers showed that Kebble, who had been forced to resign as head of three mining companies and faced a probe after assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars went missing from Randgold & Exploration Ltd., had become a suicidal recluse and had ordered his own shooting to avoid a possible jail sentence.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jaco Visser in Johannesburg at avisser3@bloomberg.net; Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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