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Agliotti arrest reopens can of worms

By unknown | Nov 17, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

Yesterday's arrest of Glenn Agliotti in connection with the murder of Brett Kebble is the start of a new chapter in the tale of mystery and intrigue surrounding the mining magnate's death.

When Kebble was killed in September last year there were speculations that his murder was "a hit" connected to his business activities.

At the time of his death Kebble's labyrinth of companies were in debt to the tune of more than a billion rand. He was also being investigated for defrauding several of these companies.

Agliotti was a close associate of Kebble. He was a director of Maverick Masupatsela, a company partnered with Masupatsela Investment Holdings, a BEE company controlled by Kebble's Consolidated Mining Management Services.

Agliotti has also been linked to JCI, the company for which Kebble was a director. The man also known as "The landlord" is believed to have worked at JCI as a consultant.

He is also currently under investigation by the Scorpions for his alleged involvement in a R250 million drug-dealing, money-laundering and corruption scam.

The twist in Agliotti's arrest relates to his alleged friendship with national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Investigations have revealed that Agliotti phoned Selebi on the night of Kebble's murder. Selebi has confirmed this.

Records show that Agliotti made the call while in the vicinity of the Melrose overhead bridge where Kebble was shot dead.

Selebi's relationship with Agliotti has recently come under the spotlight with reports that the Scorpions had him under surveillance.

Surveillance is said to have begun in September after the Scorpions were handed a secret dossier listing Selebi's alleged links to illegal activities conducted by Kebble and Agliotti.

The Sunday Times reported last month that the dossier contained claims that Selebi received a monthly payment from Clinton Nassif, Kebble's security adviser.

Selebi has denied the allegation. He has indicated that he knew Agliotti, but maintains they were not friends.

However, last week the Sunday Times reported that the Scorpions had seized a diary from Glenn Agliotti's vehicle when they raided his home in September as part of the investigation into the R250million drug bust.

The diary apparently showed that the he and Selebi were in constant contact and regularly had tea, coffee and breakfast.

Another twist to the tail is the role played by Nassif. He is currently facing a R500 000 insurance fraud charge.

Nassif made headlines last year when it emerged that he had arranged for Kebble's car to be removed from the crime scene before thorough forensic work could be completed.

The Mercedes-Benz was towed to Danmar panelbeaters, which is owned by the brother-in-law of one of Nassif's employees.

Independent forensic investigator David Klatzow was extremely critical of Nassif, saying the removal of the car compromised evidence.

Klatzow also criticised the police management of the crime scene, which, he alleged, was not properly secured.

When Klatzow was taken off the case by the Kebble family, he said he had the impression this was after Selebi had intervened.

Selebi, however, insisted that he believed the police had done a thorough job at the scene.

Selebi will now have to explain his relationship with the man charged as being the chief protagonist in one of South Africa's most intriguing murder tales.

lWho was Brett Kebble?

In his book Anatomy of South Africa, Richard Calland described how Kebble's funeral encapsulated the "congealing embrace between public and private power".

Kebble's relationship with key politicians in the ANC made him stand out among his peers in the business world.

He covered his bets by currying favours with key politicians including President Thabo Mbeki and former deputy president Jacob Zuma.

When the ANC in the Western Cape could not pay its bills in 2004, Kebble donated R500000.

He was also a major supporter of the ANC Youth League. He provided R5million in capital for the league's investment arm, Lembede investment.

When other white businessmen were accused of not being committed to BEE, Kebble was described by members of the ANCYL as umlungu wethu.

Kebble entered South Africa's mining world in 1991, three years after getting a law degree from the University of Cape Town.

He teamed up with his father, Roger, a successful mining engineer, to mount a hostile takeover of Rand Leases Gold Mining, and then won a controlling interest in Randgold and Exploration in 1994.

In 1995, he bought a controlling stake in JCI, one of South Africa's oldest mining houses.

By the age of 31, Kebble was one of South Africa's most powerful mining magnates. He bought a dozen choice properties and a fleet of limousines and Italian sports cars. He also collected rare watches.

By 2002, Kebble was beset with legal problems, among them charges of share-price manipulation, fraud and tax evasion.

He claimed it was all a political vendetta against him. He carefully tended his public image by assembling a celebrated collection of South African art, and funding a highly publicised yearly award to young artists.

He also funded a programme to feed 1500 school children in Cape Town.

In August last year he was deposed from his companies Western Areas, JCI and Randgold & Exploration, following moves by concerned investors and stakeholders.

There is an investigation to determine the whereabouts of about R2billion of Randgold Resources shares, which Randgold & Exploration could not easily account for, and which had either been loaned out or sold.

Kebble was murdered last September at the age of 41.


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