South Africa

Richest South Africans in 2024

Johann Rupert is the richest South African in 2024, with a net worth of $11.8 billion (R220.8 billion), followed by the Oppenheimer family, Koos Bekker, Patrice Motsepe, Michiel le Roux, and Christo Wiese. 

This is according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List, which regularly updates the net worth of billionaires around the world.

The wealth-tracking platform provides ongoing updates on the net worth and ranking of each individual confirmed by Forbes to be a billionaire. 

The value of individuals’ public holdings is updated every 5 minutes when respective stock markets are open, and private investments are updated daily. 

So far in 2024, American entrepreneur Elon Musk has regained the number one spot globally, replacing French tycoon Bernard Arnault. 

Musk’s net worth has recovered to $209.3 billion, with Arnault not too far behind with $203.7 billion. 

The list of the world’s richest people is dominated by Americans, with many of them generating significant wealth by creating sprawling technology empires. 

Forbes’ top ten includes Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. 

The updated list shows that South Africa’s billionaire grouping has regained its sixth member, Christo Wiese, following a recovery in his net worth after Steinhoff’s collapse. 

Wiese lost his dollar-billionaire status in 2017, following the retail giant’s collapse in which he lost around R70 billion. He has regained his status as one of South Africa’s richest, but not all of his wealth. 

Capitec founder Michiel le Roux and Wiese now trade places as South Africa’s fifth richest person. 

Patrice Motsepe remains the country’s only black Dollar billionaire with a net worth of $2.8 billion (R52.3 billion). 

Below are South Africa’s six richest people, along with an overview of how they made their money and where most of it is still tied up. 

Johann Rupert and Family – R220.8 billion ($11.8 billion)

Much of Johann Rupert’s wealth has been built off the success of his father, Anton, who started the Voorbrand Tobacco Company in the 1940s. 

This company soon became known as the Rembrandt Group, following a period of strong growth, which expanded into industries ranging from financial services to mining and engineering. 

The younger Rupert studied economics at the University of Stellenbosch while his father built Rembrandt into a blue-chip company. 

Johann dropped out to work at Chase Manhattan and Lazard Freres in New York before returning to South Africa to start Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in 1979. 

He left RMB to join his father at Rembrandt following the bank’s merger with Rand Consolidated Investments. 

Rembrandt was revolutionised by Johann, with him leading the spin-off of its international assets into Compagnie Financiere Richement. The Swiss luxury goods company owns brands such as Cartier and Montblanc. 

Remgro was formed in the early 2000s following a merger of two of Rupert’s businesses – Rembrandt and VenFin. Johann is still the chairman of Remgro. 

In 2000, Rupert was appointed chairman and CEO of Richemont, and the company’s non-luxury-related activities were spun off into Reinet Investments in 2008.

Today, Rupert is the chairman of Remgro, Richemont and Reinet. The family owns a controlling stake in all three companies. 

Richemont is the largest of the three companies, with a market capitalisation of R15.59 trillion. Reinet is second with a market cap of €4.7 billion (R95.8 billion), while Remgro is slightly smaller with a R67 billion market cap.

Nicky Oppenheimer and family – R177.9 billion ($9.5 billion)

The Oppenheimer family amassed their vast wealth largely through the diamond trade and mining. 

For over eight decades, they held a dominant position in the global market through their control of De Beers, a company that once controlled a staggering 85% to 90% of the world’s rough diamonds.  

Nicky’s father, Harry, was the chairman of De Beers and the mining giant Anglo-American. He was in charge of the world’s largest coal, diamonds, gold, and platinum suppliers.

Nicky Oppenheimer decided to sell 40% of DeBeers to Anglo in 2012, which raised $5.2 billion in cash.

He started Fireblade Aviation in 2014, which operates chartered flights.

The Oppenheimer family contribute to conservation efforts in Southern Africa and owns 720 square miles of land across South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Koos Bekker – R54.3 billion ($2.9 billion)

As CEO of Naspers, a South African media group, Koos Bekker embarked on a strategic transformation. 

He steered the company away from traditional media and into the burgeoning sectors of pay television, mobile communication, and internet services. 

This diversification positioned Naspers for significant growth. However, it was Bekker’s visionary investment in Tencent, a nascent Chinese tech company in 2001, that truly cemented his financial success. 

This gamble proved remarkably successful, as Tencent’s subsequent rise drove Naspers’ own growth trajectory. 

Bekker’s wealth, tied to stock options within Naspers, benefited immensely from this strategic decision. 

Naspers has also maintained its presence in local news, owning Africa’s largest publisher of magazines and newspapers – Media24. Naspers also owns Takealot, South Africa’s largest online retailer.

In 2019, Bekker stepped down as Naspers CEO. He now serves as chairman and remains an important shareholder in the company. 

Aside from his stake in Naspers, Bekker has many other interests that have allowed him to achieve his wealth.

Bekker owns several wine estates in South Africa, including the well-known Babylonstoren in Stellenbosch.

He also owns other properties across the country and abroad, including a multi-million-pound estate, The Newt, in Somerset in the United Kingdom.

Patrice Motsepe – R52.4 billion ($2.8 billion)

Patrice Motsepe
Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe made most of his money through his mining company, African Rainbow Minerals, which he launched in 1997. 

Motsepe graduated as a lawyer and joined Bowman Gilfillan in 1988, rising to be the firm’s first black partner in 1993, specialising in mining and business law. 

He believed he could use management techniques, particularly low base pay with production incentives, to transform less-productive shafts into profitable operations. 

In 1994, he founded Future Mining, a mining services company which specialised in turning around unprofitable mining shafts. 

African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) was launched by Motsepe in 1997 and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2002 as an extension of this ambition. 

It merged with Harmony Gold and acquired Anglovaal Mining’s unproductive mines in 2003. After this merger, Motsepe took up the role of executive chairman of ARM – a position he holds to this day. 

In 2002, Motsepe was voted South Africa’s Business Leader of the Year by the chief executive officers of the top 100 companies in South Africa. 

In the same year, he was the winner of the Ernst & Young Best Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The success of ARM catapulted Motsepe onto Forbes’ billionaire list in 2005.

Ubuntu-Botho Investments (UBI), Motsepe’s investment vehicle, acquired a significant stake in Sanlam as the insurer’s black empowerment partner in 2004. 

As of 2022, UBI owns 17.8% of Africa’s largest non-banking financial services group, and Motsepe is currently deputy chairman of Sanlam.  

Michiel le Roux – R24.3 billion ($1.3 billion)

Michiel le Roux founded Capitec in 2001, and it has grown significantly 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.

He has recently come under fire for his significant donations to the Democratic Alliance through his investment holding companies, such as Fynbos Ekwiteit.

Christo Wiese – R22.4 billion ($1.2 billion)

Businessman Christo Wiese

Christoffel Wiese, known as Christo, was born in Upington in 1941 and went on to matriculate from Paarl Boys High and graduate with an LLB from Stellenbosch University.

After working at the Cape Bar as a lawyer, Wiese joined Pep as a director under Renier van Rooyen. Wiese’s father was one of the first investors in Pep, which began in small towns in rural Karoo.

This was the beginning of Wiese’s success in the South African retail sector.

Wiese soon became 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% and second only to the Government Employees Pension Fund.

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 operating in 10 countries. It employs 47,000 workers.

Pepkor includes well-known retailers such as Pep, Ackermans, Tekkie Town, and Refinery.

It also owns JD Group, which comprises Incredible Connection, HiFi Corp, Everyshop, Russels, Bradlows, and Rochester.

Wiese used to own close to 44% of Pepkor prior to Steinhoff’s purchase of it. After Steinhoff collapsed, Wiese received a cash payment and 5% of Pepkor in exchange for dropping his court cases against Steinhoff.

Alongside his other investments, Wiese owns 37.57% of Invicta Holdings and 11.9% of TradeHold. Wiese is chairman of both Invicta and TradeHold.

Famously, Wiese owned Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch from 1991 until 2012, when he sold it to a foreign investment firm with links to Markus Jooste.


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