There have been mixed fortunes for South Africa’s richest people over the course of 2023 so far, and while Johann Rupert maintains his position as the richest man in South Africa, another is on the verge of losing his dollar billionaire status.
South Africa has long been the home to five-dollar billionaires, and these individuals are Johann Rupert, Nicky Oppenheimer, Patrice Motsepe, Koos Becker, and Michiel Le Roux.
Being dollar billionaires means that South Africa had over 25% of the continent’s 19 billionaires. Another interesting observation is that all these billionaires are over 60. Patrice Motsepe is the youngest billionaire at 61, while the DeBeers diamond fortune heir – Nicky Oppenheimer – is the oldest at 77.
According to Forbes’ real-time tracking of billionaires, as of 1 September 2023, luxury goods tycoon Johann Rupert maintains his position as the richest man in South Africa with an estimated net worth of $10.4 billion, up 16.8% from $8.9 billion in 2022.
What’s notable about Rupert’s wealth is that his 2022 net worth was also up 25% from $7.1 billion in 2021 – meaning the businessman is seeing his wealth grow year-on-year.
Following Rupert is Oppenheimer, who carries a fortune of $8.3 billion. The diamond boss saw his net worth drop by $400 million compared to last year.
South Africa’s other billionaires include familiar names on the list – mineral resources boss Motsepe saw his fortune decline by $900 million to $2.4 billion, while Media mogul Koos Bekker, whose wealth declined by 23% in 2022, saw his fortunes grow by 4.3% or $100 million to take his total net worth to $2.4 billion.
However, an interesting point to note is that the Co-founder of Capitec Bank, Michiel Le Roux, has seen a significant decline in his net worth.
Between January 2022 and February 2023, the rand’s depreciation and underperformance of Le Roux’s stake in Capitec Bank caused his net worth to fall by more than $800 million from $1.8 billion to $1 billion, reported Billionaires Africa.
Another telling sign Le Roux has lost his dollar billionaire status is that Forbes’ real-time tracking of billionaires no longer has him listed.
His last recorded net worth was $1 billion.
These billionaires, their current world rankings, and how much their wealth has changed as of 1 September are shown in the table below.
|Rank||Billionaire||2022||Sep 2023||Change (%)|
|181||Johann Rupert||$8.9 billion||$10.4 billion||+16.8%|
|264||Nicky Oppenheimer||$8.7 billion||$8.3 billion||-4.6%|
|1291||Patrice Motsepe||$3.3 billion||$2.4 billion||-27%|
|1298||Koos Bekker||$2.3 billion||$2.4 billion||+4.3%|
|–||Michiel le Roux||$1.8 billion||$1.0 billion||-44.4%|
How Rupert made his wealth
When Anton Rupert founded the cigarette company Voorbrand in the 1940s, he wouldn’t have foreseen the sprawling business empire that has made his family the wealthiest in the country.
Voorbrand became Rembrandt, and Rembrandt was then split to form Remgro and Richemont – a decision that Anton’s son Johann was instrumental in pushing through.
Rupert is one of South Africa’s most successful and best-known businessmen in his own right, with investments in many top South African and international companies.
Richemont is in the business of luxury goods. The company owns luxury brands, including Cartier and Montblanc, which have been incredibly successful.
Remgro is a holding company for a vast swath of businesses, including Discovery, Outsurance, Mediclinic, Distell, RCL Foods, and Total Energies.