The one thing South Africa’s richest people have in common

 ·13 May 2024

Six dollar-billionaires reside in South Africa –  Johann Rupert, Nicky Oppenheimer, Patrice Motsepe, Koos Becker, Michiel Le Roux, and Christoffel Wiese.

They are all dollar-billionaires, meaning South Africa is home to just over 25% of the continent’s billionaires.

However, these tycoons all have one thing in common: they are over 60 years old. In fact, most of the richest people in South Africa are over 70 years old, with Motsepe being the only exception.

Patrice Motsepe is the youngest billionaire at 62, while the retail tycoon—Christoffel Wiese—is the oldest at 82.

An interesting point is that Michiel Le Roux, the Co-Founder of Capitec Bank, has seen his net worth take a big turn for the better in 2024, losing approximately $800 million last year.

It was reported that this was due to the rand’s depreciation and Le Roux’s stake in Capitec Bank’s underperformance in the first half of 2023.

Another telling sign was that Le Roux had lost his dollar billionaire status on Forbes’ time tracking of billionaires, which no longer listed him. However, this has changed.

The recent uptick in his fortune can be attributed to the performance of his 11.39% stake in Capitec.

Capitec Bank’s stock has seen a significant increase on the local stock exchange.

It climbed 10.23% from R2,054.10 on 19 March to R2,264.29, pushing its market capitalisation beyond $13 billion.

This rise has resulted in substantial gains for Le Roux, pushing his net worth to $1.3 billion—securing his place as one of the wealthiest individuals on the continent.

Johann Rupert is still the wealthiest man in South Africa in 2024, with a net worth of $11 billion.

Another interesting observation is that two of South Africa’s billionaires –  Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer –  inherited much of their wealth while the others created most of it.

Below is a breakdown of each billionaire and how they made their fortune (as of 13 May 2024).

Johann Rupert 

  • Age: 73
  • Net worth: $11 billion (approx. R202 billion)

Anton Rupert, founder of the cigarette company Voorbrand in the 1940s, couldn’t have predicted the vast business empire that made his family the wealthiest in South Africa.

Rembrandt was born from Voorbrand, which was further divided into Remgro and Richemont, a decision Johann Rupert played a key role in making.

Johann Rupert is a prominent and successful businessman in South Africa.

He has investments in several top South African and international companies. Richemont is a luxury goods company that owns successful luxury brands such as Cartier and Montblanc.

Remgro is a holding company that is a major shareholder in numerous well-established businesses, such as Discovery, Outsurance, Mediclinic, Distell, RCL Foods, and Total Energies.

These companies have played a significant role in providing employment opportunities in the country, and Remgro’s family donates substantial amounts of money to various charitable causes every year.

Nicky Oppenheimer 

  • Age: 78
  • Net worth: $9.5 billion (approx. R174.5 billion)

Nicky Oppenheimer is the heir to an enormous fortune, acquired through the De Beers Group – the world’s largest diamond mining company.

His father, Harry, held the position of chairman at both De Beers and Anglo American, one of the leading mining companies in the world.

He managed the world’s largest coal, diamonds, gold and platinum suppliers during his tenure.

In 2012, Nicky Oppenheimer decided to sell 40% of De Beers to Anglo, which raised $5.2 billion in cash. In 2014, he began Fireblade Aviation, which specialises in chartered flights.

In addition to their business ventures, the Oppenheimer family is also active in conservation efforts in Southern Africa.

They own 720 square miles of land across South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Patrice Motsepe

  • Age: 62
  • Net worth: $2.9 billion (approx. R53.3 billion)

Motsepe initially made his fortune through mining interests. He started Foundation Mining in 1994 – his first significant business venture. His rise in the mining sector was meteoric from there.

Motsepe took African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) public in 2002, which has interests in a wide range of mines, including platinum, coal, iron, copper, and gold.

He also started African Rainbow Capital, which has a stake in many prominent businesses in the country, including Rain, Afrimat, and TymeBank.

He owns around 18% of Sanlam, the largest insurance provider in the country, through an investment trust, which is the insurer’s empowerment partner.

Koos Bekker

  • Age: 71
  • Net worth: $2.9 billion (approx. R53.3 billion)
Naspers koos bekker

Becker, the former CEO of Naspers, played a vital role in leading the media group to one of the most significant venture investments ever by acquiring a third of Tencent, the Chinese technology company.

Currently, Tencent is the 19th largest company in the world, and Naspers has thrived because of the investment.

Becker retired as CEO in 2014 and later returned as chairman of the company in 2015, where he remains to this day.

Michiel Le Roux

  • Age: 74
  • Net worth: $1.3 billion (approx. R23.8 billion)

Le Roux founded Capitec in 2001 and has grown meteorically since then. He was chairman of Capitec for almost ten years and still owns approximately 11% of the bank.

Le Roux trained as a lawyer but never practised law. He had previous banking experience with Boland Bank before starting Capitec with Riaan Stassen, who was the first CEO of the bank.

Christoffel Wiese

  • Age: 82
  • Net worth: $1.2 billion (approx. R18.3 billion)

Christo Wiese is one of South Africa’s most successful businessmen, known for his role in the growth of Shoprite and Pep, two of South Africa’s most valuable retailers.

After working as a lawyer at the Cape Bar, Wiese joined Pep as a director under Renier van Rooyen before becoming chairman of Shoprite Holdings.

He oversaw its expansion from a group of eight supermarkets into a company that employs over 150,000 workers and has a market value of R132 billion.

Wiese remains the largest individual shareholder in Shoprite, with 10.67%, second only to the Government Employees Pension Fund. His additional deferred shares give Wiese voting rights worth 32.2%.

Wiese also helped grow Pepkor into the dominant player in the discount clothing market. Pepkor has the largest retail store footprint in Southern Africa, with 5,470 stores in 10 countries. It employs 47,000 workers.

Read: More South Africans are set to become millionaires

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