Cyril Ramaphosa

Widely respected as a negotiator and strategist, Cyril Ramaphosa played a significant role, along with Roelf Meyer of the ruling National Party, in the negotiations to bring about the peaceful end to apartheid.

Born: 17 November 1952
Nationality: South African
Alma mater: University of the North, University of Massachusetts (USA), University of Cape Town, University of KwaZulu- Natal, University of Port Elizabeth, University of Lesotho, University of the North, University of South Africa.
Occupation: Deputy President of South Africa
Net worth: R5.67-billion

Early life

Growing up in Soweto in the 1960s and 1970s, Ramaphosa became intimately involved in student politics and joined the South African Students Organisation and the Black People’s Convention. This resulted in him being detained twice, the first time for 11 months in solitary confinement and the second for six months, both times under the auspices of the Terrorism Act. While in detention, Ramaphosa completed his law degree via correspondence through the University of South Africa. After being released he completed his articles with a Johannesburg firm of attorneys, and joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (Cusa) as an advisor in the legal department. Ramaphosa was encourage by Cusa to form a union for mineworkers and in 1982 the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was born with Ramaphosa as its first secretary. He was the organiser of the preparations for the conference that led to the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), delivered the keynote address at Cosatu’s launch rally, and was part of the Cosatu delegation that met with the ANC in Lusaka, Zambia. To say he has had an impact on South Africa as we know it today is a severe understatement.

How he made his money

Following his election to Deputy President of South Africa in 2014, Ramaphosa has stepped away from a majority of his business interests. Prior to that he was Executive Chairman of Shanduka Group, which he also founded. The company has investments in the resources, energy, real estate, banking, insurance, and telecoms sectors. He has held Non-Executive Directorships with Macsteel Holdings, Alexander Forbes, and Standard Bank, as well as being the Chairman of The Bidvest Group and MTN. He has previously held a position on the board of SAB Miller.

Patrice Motsepe

Raised in Soweto during the height of apartheid, Patrice Motsepe’s business prospects did not look good. However, his undeniable business acumen and determination to succeed have seen him become South Africa’s first black billionaire and the first African to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge.

Born: 28 January 1962

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of Swaziland, University of the Witwatersrand

Occupation: Executive Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals

Net worth: R27.72-billion

Early life

Motsepe was introduced into the world of sales and business early in his life. His father Augustine Motsepe, an ex-school teacher turned businessman, recognised an opportunity to create a spaza shop that became very popular with black mine workers. It was while working in this shop that Patrice learned the basics of business. The spaza shop was also where a young Motsepe learned that he wanted more himself than selling odds and ends to miners. Despite the fact that his father admitted that they would sell far more when his son was behind the counter, a young Patrice became determined to become a lawyer at the tender age of eight years old. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Swaziland, Motsepe completed his LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand and went on to become the first black partner at Bowman Gilfillan, one of the top law firms in Africa.

How he made his money

A genuine rags to riches story already, instead of stopping as a vastly successful lawyer, Motsepe became a mining magnate. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which deals in gold, ferrous and base metals, and platinum. As the undisputed richest black person in South Africa, Motsepe sits on the boards of several companies, such as Harmony Gold, and owns a piece of Sanlam. When Motsepe was starting out in the mining game, he benefitted from an extended downturn in the price of gold. South African gold groups, such as AngloGold were looking to restructure by offloading marginal mines. He purchased these low-yield assets and turned them profitable. As a result, in 2002, he was honoured with South Africa’s Best Entrepreneur Award and in 2004 was voted 39th in SABC 3’s Greatest South African’s list. In 2012, the Sunday Times listed Motsepe as the richest man in South Africa with an estimated fortune of R20 billion. Since 2012, his fortune has grown but he has relinquished the title of richest man in South Africa.


Tokyo Sexwale

Former Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale is a well know public figure in South Africa with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. He is a businessman, politician, anti-apartheid activist, and former political prisoner. If he were to say that he had seen it all, it would be difficult to argue.

Born: 5 March 1953

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of Botswana,Lesotho, and Swaziland; University of Nottingham (UK)

Occupation: Non-Executive Chair of Mvelaphanda Holdings

Net worth: R2.14-billion

Early life

The son of a clerk at Johannesburg General Hospital, Sexwale grew up in Orlando West in Soweto at the height of the turmoil in the township. He joined Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement at a young age and was quickly recognised as a natural leader by the South African Students’ Movement.

Just after completing high school in the early 1970s, he joined the African National Congress’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe and went into exile to receive military officers training in the Soviet Union with a specialisation in military engineering.

Soon after returning to South Africa, Sexwale was captured by local authorities, tried for terrorism and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and was sentenced to an 18-year jail term at Robben Island maximum security prison. He was released in 1990 after serving 13 years of his sentence and began his successful career as a politician and businessman.

How he made his money

After stepping down from public service, Sexwale founded Mvelaphanda Holdings. The company’s primary focus is on the mining, energy, and related sectors. His main interests are in the oil and diamond mining industries.

Sexwale is a major player in the diamond mining industry in South Africa. His company is reportedly the third largest diamond mining organisation in the country. His business acumen was praised by Harry Oppenheimer, a mega-mining mogul himself, who stated that Sexwale understanding of the South African and international diamond mining industry was almost unequalled.

He is a well-known philanthropist and a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Global Philanthropists Circle of the Synergos Institute, the Business Trust, and the Robben Island Ex-Prisoners Trust. If that weren’t enough, he is also a patron of organisations such as the Johannesburg Child and Family Welfare Society, Streetwise South Africa, Save the Family Fund, and The Sky is No Limit.


Sipho Nkosi

With an MBA from Massachusetts University in the United States of America and more than 20 years of experience in the mining industry behind his name, Sipho Nkosi is truly a force to be reckoned with in South African business circles.

Born: 29 April 954

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of Massachusetts (USA), University of Zululand, University of South Africa

Occupation: President of the Chamber of Mines South Africa

Net worth: R1.7 billion

How he made his money

Not much is known about the early years of this media-shy mogul who prefers to stay out of the limelight and let his business successes do the talking for him. What is known is that he holds several degrees, along with the MBA he holds an Honours Degree in Economics from the University of South Africa and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Zululand.

While working with Anglo Coal he recognised a growing opportunity in the coal industry and put a team together that narrowly won the bid to purchase New Coal, previously owned by two of South Africa’s mining giants, in 1998. Over the following three years, he and his partners built Eyesizwe Coal, a mining company that became a shining light in the world of transformation and B-BEEE.

Gwede Mantashe himself rated Eyesizwe as the benchmark of what B-BBEE could achieve in South Africa when he said, “To me, it is the perfect example of what should be done and what can be done.”

This statement was followed up by a climate survey of Eyesizwe, conducted by Johan Rall, a Professor at the University of South Africa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership, in which he dubbed Nkosi’s company as, “The model of transformation”.

The most impressive factor for Professor Rall was how Nkosi managed to transform the company from being completely white-owned into a highly successful company with black representation at every level of management. He even asked if he could publish his findings as a case study for B-BBEE, to which Nkosi humbly declined saying, “We haven’t finished yet. We can still do better.”

Currently Nkosi is on his way to being worth R2-billion, owns a stake in Sanlam, and is currently the CEO of Exxaro Resources, which purchased Eyesizwe. He is currently the President of the Chamber of Mines South Africa.

Phuthuma Nhleko

From revolutionising MTN’s strategic vision to championing the goals of broad-based black economic empowerment Phuthuma Nhleko is a worthy inclusion on this list.

Early life

After completing his O-level schooling in Swaziland, Nhleko headed straight to the United States of America to continue his studies. He completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering at Ohio State University in 1983.

His first job was with the Ohio Department of Transport as a civil engineer but decided he needed to further his knowledge and returned to studying, completing an MBA in finance at Atlanta University.

How he made his money

Nhleko’s most notable position was as the Chief Executive Officer for MTN. Before that he served as a Senior Manager of the Standard Corporate & Merchant Bank corporate team, as well being a Civil Engineer and Project Manager for the Urban Foundation, and a Senior Road Engineer for the Ministry of Works in Swaziland.

After joining MTN as CEO, he announced himself with radical changes to the company’s strategic vision and implementation plan. According to Trailblazers: South Africa’s Champions of Change, after only five months in the job, in December 2002, Nhleko introduced a management buy-in scheme at MTN, which was one of the largest B-BEE acquisitions up till that date with a value of R4.3-billion.

After the buy-in, nearly 19 percent of the company was owned by management and staff, 70 percent of which were previously disadvantaged. The transaction set the tone for MTN’s commitment to direct empowerment through structured broad- based ownership deals. During his time as CEO, MTN delivered on all of its broad-based empowerment objectives.

Currently, Nhleko is the Chairman and one of the founding members of Worldwide African Invest. He also serves as a director at Old Mutual Life, Nedcor Investment Bank, Nixia Trading, Network Communications, Worldwide Capital, Commerce One, Worldwide African Logistics & Trading, Johnic Communications, Afric Oil, and Sego Investments. He has returned to MTN as a Non-Executive Chairman and is a member of the Audit Committee at Anglo American.


Vincent Mnthambo

Known as the master dodger from his time avoiding the police during the Soweto students’ uprising in 1976, Vincent Mntambo has certainly earned his stripes as one of South Africa’s leading businessmen.

Born: 17 September 1957

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: Yale University (UK), University of the North West


Chairman of ASG Consulting Solutions

Net worth: R1.01-billion

Early life

His first experience with a leadership role was as head prefect at Musi High School in Primville. He was also the school’s representative on the Soweto Students’ Representative Council. This led to him becoming a leader of the 1976 Soweto uprisings, and the master dodger earned his name because the police were never able to arrest him. While 11 of his schoolmates were on trial, Mntambo was on the run for five months and bravely avoided the temptation to go into exile.

He followed this with an LLB from the University of the

North West, which he paid for through his passion for street photography and a bursary he received from the university. He gained experience in administrative duties through various roles within the personnel department at the University of the North West before the Education Opportunity Council gave him the opportunity to study law at Yale.

How he made his money

After returning from Yale, Mntambo spent some time teaching law at UNISA before joining the International Mediation Service of South Africa as Regional Director. His experience studying law in two countries, as well as his role in the Soweto uprisings, meant that Mntambo was an excellent conflict mediator, which fast-tracked his rise to become President of the South African Association of Conflict Intervention.

Throughout his career he has held the position of Non-Executive Director of Aveng; Non-Executive Chair of the Commision for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration; Executive Director of the Independent Mediation Services of South Africa; has been a Senior Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; and was the Director General of Gauteng.

Currently he serves as a Non-Executive Director for Eyesizwe Coal, Everest Applied Technologies, and Exxaro Resources; he is Executive Director at Sediba Consulting; and is serving as Chairman of ASG Consulting Solutions.

Leonard Sowazi

Also known as Nkunku, Leonard Sowazi has over 15 years’ experience in investment management, as well as vast knowledge and exposure to the mining, infrastructure, and financial services sectors. He currently sits on the boards of a plethora of South Africa’s biggest organisations and his fortune is fast approaching the R1-billion mark.

Born: April 1963

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of California, US International University

Occupation: Chairperson of Kagiso Tiso Holdings

Net worth: R726-million

How he made his money

Sowazi began his career on the front foot after returning to South Africa with a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the USA International University.

In addition to all of the companies he has been involved with, both in an executive as well as non-executive capacity, Sowazi also owns stakes in the Emira Property Fund and Litha Healthcare Groups.

Company Associations

Currently serves as

• Chairperson of Kagiso Tiso Holdings

• Chairman of Idwala Industrial Holdings

• Chairman of Home Loan Guarantee Company

• Chairman of the Financial Markets Trust

• Non-Executive Director of Litha Healthcare Group

• Director of Trident Steel

• Independent Non-Executive Director of Grindrod Limited • Director of BAEL Holdco

• Director of Actom Holdings

• Director of Housing for HIV

• Non-Executive Director of African Explosives Limited

Previously served as

• Managing Director of the Mortgage Indemnity Fund

• Manager of Emire Property Fund

• Non-Executive Chairperson of Litha Healthcare Group

• Executive Chairperson of Tiso Group

• Executive Chairman of Tiso Group

• Executive Deputy Chairman of African Bank Investments

• Non-Executive Director of Exxaro Resources

• Non-Executive Director of Strategic Real Estate Managers

• Non-Executive Director of Development Bank of South Africa

Mike Teke

Coming from humble beginnings has meant that success has not spoiled Mike Teke. Parentless in his youth, he was raised by his grandmother and the wisdom she shared with him has stuck with Teke for his whole life, and he often attributes his success to her advice.

Born: 15 August 1964

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of Limpopo,University of Johannesburg, University of South Africa

Occupation: Chief Executive Officer at Optimum Coal Holdings

Net worth: R682-million

Early life

While growing up his grandmother imparted the age old saying, ‘early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise’. It is a motto that he admits still living to, to this day. He reportedly arrives at work by 6am every day, a routine that he has carried on from the pattern he adopted very early on in life. He was apparently just as diligent while studying for his Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Limpopo. After completing an additional Bachelor of Arts at the University of Limpopo, he went on to complete an Honours degree from the University of Johannesburg and an MBA from the University of South Africa.

How he made his money

Despite the vast fortune he has earned in his career, the ethics he learned from his grandmother, and his steady climb up the corporate ladder, have never left him. He has an impressive CV of former employers including BHP Billion, Samancor Manganese, Elida Ponds, Bayer, and Impala Platinum. He is currently the Vice President of the Chamber of Mines.

Teke has a keen eye for value, which resulted in him purchasing a 55 percent stake in the Vlakfontein prospecting rights in the Ermelo area after identifying the potential value of coal. This is currently the Vlakfontein greenfield development project owned by Optimum Coal, the company he purchased, along with four like-minded investors, in 2008.

In two years Optimal Coal had grown in value to be worth R2.7 billion. Teke attributes this success to the purchase of Optimal Coal at a favourable time, just before the resource reach R150 per ton. This and the fact that they used the money wisely to invest in company infrastructure has seen the company consistently return good profits. This is a fact that will please all of Optimum’s employees, who own just short of 10 percent of the shares currently in issue for the company. His career in human resources has ensured that he knows how to keep his staff happy.

Further evidence of Teke’s humble ways can be seen by the three year investment Optimum Coal has undertaken to fund a comprehensive HIV/Aids testing and educational programme at all of its mining operations. This programme encourages employees and local communities to know their status and live responsibly.

Saki Macozoma

A former political prisoner and apartheid struggle hero, Saki Macozoma is the perfect example of what a strong work ethic and good attitude can accomplish: He is now one of the best-known business people in South Africa.

Born: 12 May 1957

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of South Africa,Boston University (USA)

Occupation: Non-Executive Chairman of Safika Holdings

Net worth: R565-million

Early life

After attending schools in the Transkei and Port Elizabeth, Macozoma studied political science, economics, and journalism at the University of South Africa and Boston University in the USA. He returned in the mid-1970s to begin his political career as an organiser for the South African Students Movement.

This career path was cut short in 1976 when he was arrested for leading a student protest march and was sentenced to be imprisoned on Robben Island for no less than five years. During his incarceration, Macozoma became acquainted with the father of South Africa as we know it today, the late Nelson Mandela. Madiba mentored the young Macozoma and encouraged him to take highly principled views on moral issues. This led him to becoming highly active on the Detainees Support Committee upon his release in 1982 and his role in the formation of the United Democratic Front.

How he made his money

In 1994, Macozoma was appointed as a member of parliament and was elected Chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio on communications. However, his political career was again cut short as he resigned his post in 1996 to take up the role as the first black Managing Director of state transport infrastructure body Transnet.

In 1998 he was appointed to the board of Standard Bank, South Africa’s largest financial institution and has subsequently become Deputy Chairman. In addition, he is currently the Chairman of Liberty Holdings, Stanlib, Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining, Ntsimbintle Mining, the Council on Higher Education, the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the University Council of the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 2012, along with Mandela, Macozoma was given a Calabash Award from the University of South Africa, the highest honour the tertiary institution offers. He was also the first recipient of the Robben Island Alumnes Award, to honour those who served time imprisoned on Robben Island for fighting against the oppressive state system of the apartheid regime.

He is the Deputy Chairman of Volkwagen SA and is a member of the Board of Governors of Rhodes University. If anyone in South Africa can complain about not having enough hours in a day, it is without doubt Saki Macozoma.

Dalikhaya Zihlangu

A mining man from day one, Dalikhaya Zihlangu used his experience and know-how from years of working on the mines to turn himself into a millionaire and one of the richest people in South Africa.

Nationality: South African

Alma mater: University of Witwatersrand, University of South Africa

Occupation: Director of Exxaro Resources

Net worth: R533-million

Early life

After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Witwatersrand in 1989, becoming only the second qualified black engineer in South Africa in the process, Zihlangu began working on the mines as a stopper/developer and shift boss at Vaal Reefs Gold Mining Company. This job entailed blasting hard rock, drilling and installing support, as well as the blasting of development ends, openings, and raises.

After joining the Anglo American Corporation graduate training programme at Vaal Reefs Exploration and Mining Company, he obtained his mine manager’s government certificate and moved across to Impala Platinum in 1995. While there, he worked as a shift boss, mine overseer, operations manager, and mine manager until 2002.

How he made his money

Since then he has used his impeccable work ethic, experience of the mining industry, and acute business acumen to amass a formidable fortune. He left Impala Platinum in 2002 to join Alexkor as the Chief Executive Officer.

Throughout his distinguished career, Zihlangu has been involved in almost every facet of mining in South Africa, including serving as an independent non-executive director of The South African National Oil and Gas Company (PetroSA), serving on its performance monitoring committee, from 2006 to 2012.

Zihlangu has subsequently earned an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Post-Graduate Diploma from the University of South Africa. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of Exxaro Resources and the Chief Executive Officer of Eyabuntu Capital Holdings.

In addition, he is the Executive Director of the relatively new incubator mining and resource entity Intambanane Mining. Due to his work ethic, experience in the mining sector, and his extended network, it would surprise no-one if he was nearer to the top of the list of richest South Africans when he retires.