Who Is The Wealthiest Family In South Africa? The Oppenheimer family is the wealthiest family living in South Africa.
Nicky Oppenheimer (born in 1945) grew up in a wealthy family linked to the De Beers diamond mining company. He used his family’s influence to work with several high-profile companies, including De Beers Consolidated Mines, Central Selling Organization (now operating as Diamond Trading Company), and Anglo American, a multinational mining company based in England with operations around the world.
The Oppenheimer family grew its influence and wealth when Nicky married Oscillia Lasch, the daughter of Helli Lasch. Helli Lasch was an industrialist from Germany. He died in a glider crash in South Africa in 1984.
Forbes has included Nicky Oppenheimer on its list of billionaires several times. His name first appeared on the list in 2018. It identified him as the 23rd richest person in England. Future issues listed him as the richest person in South Africa. As of 2022, he has assets worth about $8.6 billion.
Top 5 Billionaires In South Africa
As of late 2022, South Africa has eight billionaires. The richest person in the group, Elon Musk, doesn’t live in the country, though.
The top five billionaires who actually reside in South Africa are:
- Nicky Oppenheimer ($8.6 billion)
- Johann Rupert ($7.6 billion)
- Patrice Motsepe ($2.7 billion)
- Koos Bekker ($2.2 billion)
- Michiel Le Roux ($1.7 billion)
Nicky Oppenheimer is a South African billionaire who made his money in the mining industry.
Johann Rupert is the oldest son of Anton Rupert, founder of the tobacco and industrial conglomerate, Rembrandt Group.
Johann Rupert began his career in banking after dropping out of college and moving to New York City. In New York, he spent time working for Chase Manhattan and Lazard Freres before returning home to found Rand Merchant Bank.
Since then, he has restructured his father’s company and formed several other organizations. He’s perhaps best known for his work with the Swiss-based luxury goods company, Compagnie Financiere Richemont.
Patrice Motsepe is the only person of color to rank among South Africa’s billionaires. He was born in 1960 to a chief of the Tsawana people. Motsepe holds a BA from the University of Swaziland and a law degree from the University of Witwatersrand.
After completing his education, Motsepe entered the mining industry and formed Future Mining. The company used an innovative approach to paying employees that includes a base pay and profit-sharing bonus.
He has gone on to found several more companies, purchase gold mines, and support Black Economic Empowerment laws, including a rule that would force all South African mining companies to have at least 26% Black ownership.
Motsepe has ownership in a football club and a rugby club.
Koos Bekker is the chairman of Naspers, a media company that operates in more than 130 countries. In the mid-1980s, he joined forces with like-minded colleagues to start M-Net, a pay-television service. The company grew to serve nearly 50 countries in Africa.
In the 1990s, Bekker formed MTN, a mobile communications company. When he became CEO of M-Net in 1997, he made changes that rapidly accelerated the company’s growth. Its market capitalization went from about $1.2 billion to $45 billion under his guidance.
Interestingly, Bekker did not earn a salary or bonuses during this time. Instead, he only received shares as compensation. As the company’s wealth grew, Bekker became a billionaire.
Michiel Le Roux
Michiel Le Roux is banker widely accredited with rejuvenating South Africa’s banking industry. Le Roux earned a law degree but never practiced. After graduation, he decided to for Distillers Corp before starting a banking venture called Boland Bank.
Four years after starting Boland Bank and overseeing several mergers, he left the company to found Capitec Bank. Capitec Bank revolutionized South Africa’s banking industry by putting customers first. The bank charged low service fees, provided financial literacy advice, and offered high interest rates for savings accounts.
Today, Capitec Bank has more than 10 million customers. Its success turned Michiel Le Roux into a billionaire.
Most Powerful Person in South Africa
Wealth has many obvious advantages. A billionaire can have significant influence over how a country operates. Having a lot of money doesn’t always make someone the most powerful person in South Africa, though. While Nicky Oppenheimer can do a lot with his money, he must also work with powerful politicians like Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa started his career as a labor and anti-Apartheid activist. He has also worked to help unionize workforces and owned several small businesses.
Although not nearly as wealthy as the Oppenheimer family, he has considerable control over South Africa as the country’s president.
Ramaphosa was elected as president in 2018 and still holds his seat in early 2023. He has also served as an African Union chairperson, president of the African National Congress, and Deputy President of South Africa.
Ramaphosa isn’t a billionaire, but he is quite wealthy. His net worth is valued at about $450 million.
Is Elon Musk From South Africa?
Elon Musk is from South Africa, but he left the country at a fairly young age. After graduating from high school, Musk moved to Canada to attend college.
A few years later, he moved to the United States, which has remained his home base since the 1990s. Musk holds citizenship in South Africa, Canada, and the United States. Originally, Musk lived in the US illegally. Investors helped him acquire a green card and work through the naturalization process.
Like Nicky Oppenheimer, Musk comes from a wealthy family. His father, Errol Musk, purchased an emerald mine for £40,000 in 1969. The mine made him a millionaire and allowed him to retire early to pursue interests like sailing, aviation, and governance.
Elon Musk undoubtedly has access to more money than anyone in the world. However, recent movements in Tesla share price have significantly lowered his overall wealth.
Near the end of 2021, Musk had a net worth of about $340 billion. He lost about $200 billion of that money by the end of 2022. Most of his losses come from acquiring Twitter. Tesla has also underperformed and lost stock value.
Since Musk doesn’t live in South Africa or have many ongoing connections to his family there, it’s unfair to consider him one of the richest people in South Africa. He’ll have to settle for being the richest person in the world.
Richest Woman In South Africa
Wendy Appelbaum is the richest woman in South Africa. After finishing school, she joined her father at Liberty Group before starting her own company, Wiphold. Wiphold established itself as an influential venture by dedicating its lending services to empowering women.
Applebaum has founded several other organizations since Wiphold. Some of the companies she has founded or worked with include:
- Western Cape Tourism, Trade & Investments (WESGRO)
- Victory Strategic Services
- Sphere Holdings Limited
- Wendy Ackerman
- Irene Charnley
- Bridgette Radebe
- Sharon Wapnick
Top 3 Richest Men In South Africa
Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert stand out as the two richest men in South Africa. Depending on stock market performance, their positions as the first- and second-richest people in the country could change at any moment.
Other billionaires on this, however, are significantly behind them. The next-richest person in the group has about $5 billion less than the two wealthiest. That’s an amount of money that very few people could accumulate regardless of work ethic and business savvy.
Of course, none of them look particularly noteworthy compared to Elon Musk. Since Musk made his fortune and resides in the US, though, he doesn’t have much influence over South Africa’s economy or culture.
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