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News Room

Revealed: The Five Richest People In South Africa

Jason Snyman
2019-07-08
While the overall wealth of citizens in South Africa has dramatically declined over the last year, Forbes has listed five dollar-billionaire South Africans in its 2019 Rich List.

New World Wealth’s 2019 South Africa Wealth Report has revealed that the overall number of dollar millionaires in South Africa has dropped dramatically over the past year, from 43 600 to 39 200. Over the last year, South Africa lost 130 citizens who are valued at $10 million or more. Total private wealth held by people living in South Africa has dropped by 10%, currently sitting at a total of around $649 billion. 

2018 was a poor year for wealth in our country, with our sluggish exchange rate, lacklustre local property market and ongoing exodus of skilled and wealthy people contributing to the decline.

Wealth in Johannesburg has dropped from $276 billion to $248 billion, and Cape Town has dropped from $155 billion to $133 billion. 

Over the years, nine South African-born dollar billionaires have left the country, and remain among the richest people in the world.

With all the capital flight going on, though, there are still several wealthy South Africans sticking it out here in the country of their birth. In its 2019 Rich List, Forbes has included five South African dollar billionaires. 

Rand Billionaires

There are 94 dollar centi-millionaires ($100 million +) living in South Africa. When converted to local currency, these are comfortably classified as rand billionaires. 

In Entrepreneur Magazine’s latest ranking of South Africa’s richest people (based on the latest information from the last three years) we find several names of people who took a massive financial knock over that period. This includes former Steinhoff CEO, Markus Jooste (allegedly worth R5.6 billion), and Christo Wiese (who lost his dollar billionaire status in 2018 in the wake of the Steinhoff debacle, but has since managed to claw his way back to a net worth of about $1.1 billion).

Other South African billionaires on record include Allan Gray, Douw Steyn and Stephen Saad, who, along with the aforementioned Wiese, all made the top ten list of richest people in South Africa.

Mark Shuttleworth ranked within the top fifteen – said to be worth a cool R9.3 billion – and President Cyril Ramaphosa came in among the top twenty richest people in South Africa, valued at R6.4 billion.

And now, on to the top five. 

The Five Richest People In South Africa

The Forbes rankings are based on publicly-available information, which includes the assets and investments of each individual. For this reason, several billionaires, such as Douw Steyn (listed as having a net worth of R16.7 billion) were not legible for the Forbes Billionaire List, because their fortune isn’t held in publicly-listed companies. 

Steyn, along with Ivan Glasenberg, Manfred Gorvy, Nathan Kirsh, and others, are among local billionaires who do not currently live in South Africa.

So, according to the Forbes and NWW rankings, the five billionaires highlighted include Capitec founder, Michiel le Roux ($1.2 billion), media mogul Koos Bekker ($2.3 billion), mining and minerals magnate Patrice Motsepe ($2.4 billion), king of luxury goods Johann Rupert ($5.5 billion) and the number one richest man in the country, diamond tycoon Nicky Oppenheimer ($7.3 billion).

Oppenheimer was the third generation in his family to run De Beers, and served as chairman of the De Beers Group from 1998 to 2012. He retired when the family stake was sold to Anglo American, and has since focused predominately on philanthropy and other business ventures.

Oppenheimer’s net worth currently sits at around R103.2 billion, and he owns at least 720 square miles of conservation land across South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, including the largest private game reserve in South Africa – the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.

Back in 2014, BusinessTech worked out that if Oppenheimer spent R1 million every single day, it would take 228 years for his wealth to run out. Fortunately, the Oppenheimer family has put a ton of their wealth into preserving the heritage and cultural importance of the Southern African region, as well as uplifting communities in areas of health, education, nature conservation and the arts. 

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