About 50km outside of Cape Town lies the beautiful town of Stellenbosch, nestled against vineyards and blue mountains that stretch to the sky. Here reside some of South Africa’s wealthiest individuals: all male, all Afrikaans – and all stinking rich. Johann Rupert, Jannie Mouton, Markus Jooste and Christo Weise, to name a few.
Julius Malema refers to them scathingly as ‘The Stellenbosch Mafia’, the very worst example of white monopoly capital. But who really are these mega-wealthy individuals, and what influence do they exert not only on Stellenbosch but more broadly on South African society?
Author Pieter du Toit begins by exploring the roots of Stellenbosch, one of the wealthiest towns in South Africa and arguably the cradle of Afrikanerdom. This is the birthplace of apartheid leaders, intellectuals, newspaper empires and more.
He then closely examines this ‘club’ of billionaires. Who are they and, crucially, how are they connected? What network of boardroom membership, alliances and family connections exist? Who are the ‘old guard’ and who are the ‘inkommers’, and what about the youngsters desperate to make their mark? He looks at the collapse of Steinhoff: what went wrong, and whether there are other companies at risk of a similar fate. He examines the control these men have over cultural life, including pulling the strings in South Africa rugby.