Stellenbosch Mafia does not exist – Whitey Basson

Retail don and former Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson said there is no Stellenbosch Mafia with a secret network of connected billionaires.

EFF leader Julius Malema popularised the term Stellenbosch Mafia which referred to wealthy Afrikaans men who lived in and around the town.

It became part of the business lexicon following political journalist Pieter du Toit’s book, The Stellenbosch Mafia – Inside the Billionaire’s Club.

Du Toit delved into the lives and business dealings of many wealthy men living in the picturesque Boland town, supposedly headed by billionaire and Remgro chairman Johann Rupert.

Members of the club reportedly include PSG founder Jannie Mouton, Shoprite’s Christo Wiese and Whitey Basson, Mediclinic’s Edwin Hertzog, and disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste.

Other wealthy men associated with Stellenbosch are GT Ferreira, Michael Jordaan, Paul Harris, and Naspers chairman Koos Bekker.

Du Toit said the Stellenbosch Mafia exists as a business network. “There is an interconnected grouping of extremely rich and influential businessmen who call Stellenbosch their home,” he said.

“They exert enormous influence on various industries in South Africa, social life, and politics. They are deeply connected with politicians and politics.”

He explained that the term ‘Stellenbosch Mafia’ had been weaponised politically, especially through Bell Pottinger’s divisive “white monopoly capital” campaign.

“To the members of the so-called Stellenbosch Mafia, the term was initially fun and even a badge of honour. These days, it has become a swearword,” Du Toit said.

Speaking to My Guest Tonight with Annika Larsen, Basson said the concept of the Stellenbosch Mafia is a blatant lie.

“I have never been to a mafia meeting, and I have never been to a place where we are trying to run anything,” Basson said.

He said most of the people mentioned in Du Toit’s book are university friends who may see each other at social events from time to time.

“Sometimes we get to a party and sit next to each other. Sometimes, we have lunch in Stellenbosch and talk about golf and hunting,” he said.

“I have never sat at a table with any of the guys mentioned in the book to put a deal together or move in this direction.”

He explained that the men mentioned in The Stellenbosch Mafia – Inside the Billionaire’s Club are all in different types of businesses.

“All I can say about the Stellenbosch Mafia is that it does not exist,” Basson said.

Basson also dismissed the concept of the Stellenbosch Mafia as a “load of nonsense” in Niel Joubert’s book, Whitey: The Rise and Rule of the Shoprite King.

Joubert highlighted that critics of this ‘Billionaires’ Club’ believe they do big deals only among themselves and conspire to keep new entrants out of the market.

There is even a feeling that they are pulling the strings of the government and the South African economy from their adjacent offices in this town.

However, Basson said there’s nothing to the Stellenbosch Mafia or Billionaire’s Club except sensationalist journalism.

“There is a sizeable circle of friends and acquaintances who studied at Stellenbosch University at roughly the same time,” he said.

“Some guys are not friends in the least, but they happen to have been contemporaries at Maties and have built up large businesses. And now they’re suddenly something akin to the Illuminati.”

He added that they may eat out together occasionally, or you bump into someone and talk some business.

However, there are no deliberate plans to act in concert or do business together.


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