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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Mystery around SA magnate murder
Brett Kebble
Friends are convinced he was assassinated
South African police are investigating whether murdered mining magnate Brett Kebble was the victim of a car hijacking or a targeted killing.

Mr Kebble, 41, was found dead at the wheel of his car in Johannesburg on Monday evening.

His family and friends are convinced that Mr Kebble was assassinated.

Government and business leaders, and participants in the art awards sponsored by Mr Kebble, have paid tribute to the murdered man.


Police spokesman Superintendent Chris Wilken said the police were putting together a picture that could indicate a hijack attempt.

"The vehicle was stationary (while) he talked to his assailants. It's very clear to us. And then from there, he was shot and he drove further," Supt Wilken said.

"So that's why we are actually piecing our facts on the fact that it might have been a hijacking that went wrong."

But Kebble family spokesman David Barritt dismissed the idea that Mr Kebble was the victim of a botched hijack.

"Police are saying it could be a hijacking, but nobody in the family believes that."

'Pure assassination'

Andile Nkuhlu, a business partner and ANC Youth League member who was among the group of people expecting to meet Mr Kebble for dinner on Monday night, agreed the killing was deliberate.

"This was pure assassination. There is no doubt about it," he said.

South African media reports have speculated that the killing was linked to Mr Kebble's recent ventures in the diamond business, comparing the circumstances of the murder to the still unsolved killing of businesswoman Hazel Crane in 2003.

Ms Crane was gunned down less than one kilometre from the site of Mr Kebble's killing, while on her way to testify about illegal diamond dealing.

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said she hoped the killing would not deter business investment in South Africa.

"I have no doubt that this great South African [Mr Kebble] would like the country to prosper and would not want this tragedy to be used in any way to spoil the progress of our country," she said.

Art sponsor

Artists and others associated with the Brett Kebble Art Awards paid tribute to the man who had sponsored the major annual art prize.

Phillip Rikhotso, joint winter of the 2005 prize, said: "I am heart broken, shocked and devastated. I feel I am poor again."

"There are so many people whose lives he has enhanced through his contribution and progressive thinking about arts and culture," said Tanya Poole, this year's other winner.

Mr Kebble contributed to the governing ANC's coffers and had business links with the ANC Youth League.

He is also believed to have been a benefactor of ex-Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who is charged with corruption.

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