๐Ÿ”’ Alec Hogg: Thank goodness for the Oppenheimers

BizNews founder Alec Hogg shares his rational perspective on the Oppenheimers, looking back to when he met the patriarch of the fortuitous family and reflects on how the humility and commitment to South Africa still lives on in his daughter and granddaughter, who continue to invest in SA. Recently, they decided to invest half-a-billion rand into saving South African horse racing. This follows the R1-billion donation given to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund earlier in the year. – Jarryd Neves

By Alec Hogg

In the early 1980s, as a greenhorn financial reporter at the Rand Daily Mail, I was in a constant battle to repay a student loan, meet the rent and feed my face. With monthly expenses exceeding income, my books only balanced through careful punting at the racecourse. That created a lifelong affection for the Sport of Kings.

Back then, companies took the “Silly Season” rather seriously, with many hosting media Christmas functions. Most prized of all invitations was to Anglo American’s annual cocktail party at 44 Main Street. Mostly because it offered the possibility of spotting SA’s dominant businessman who was sometimes there – Anglo’s second generation boss, Harry Oppenheimer (HFO).

I cracked an invite one year andย arrived early, as one does when you’re a hungry young man and there’s free food. Standing alone in the middle of the room was the legendary HFO. It was the only time I engaged directly with this short, quiet and modest man. But that unexpected engagement with a global titan exposed me to a deep love for and commitment to SA – and the power of true humility. Some things you never forget.

HFO’s daughter and granddaughter are showing us the apple did not fall far from that mighty tree. At a time when others, especially SA’s wealthy, keep funnelling as much money as possible abroad, Mary Slack and daughter Jessica Jell are swimming against the tide. Last night we heard they will invest more than half a billion rand to save South African horseracing. That’s on top of the billion they gifted to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund. Thank goodness for the Oppenheimers. Once again, setting a splendid example.

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