🔒 The back story to SA’s new #1 bestseller with its author Pieter du Toit

Author of The Stellenbosch Mafia, Pieter du Toit, is almost made for the job. A graduate of the town’s famous Paul Roos Gymnasium and Stellenbosch University, having breathed its air for so many years, Du Toit has insights that outsiders can never acquire. He applied this advantage together with his access to media-shy billionaires to very good effect into what instantly became South Africa’s best selling book – and is likely to stay top of the list for some time. Superbly written, Du Toit also exposes some unreported ugliness, including the sordid tale of the corruption tainted CEO of the South African Rugby Football Union, Jurie Roux, an associate of the disgraced Markus Jooste who retains his powerful role despite being sued for more than R30m by his former employer, Stellenbosch University. – Alec Hogg

What is the Stellenbosch Mafia and what do its members do? Journalist Pieter du Toit, from Stellenbosch himself, dissects one of the country’s most powerful business circles in a best-selling book.

As he tells BizNews founder Alec Hogg, in this interview: “One thing that cuts across the board is that they want the country to succeed and are committed to the democratic project. They are loyal South Africans. They aren’t hell-bent on escaping and manipulating the currency and pulling strings.”

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Speaking of the rise of the Afrikaner business class, Du Toit says: “They were drawn to a collectivism. They weren’t buying into the capitalism of the English-speaking and Jewish communities.”

Controversially, Du Toit has revealed that Richemont and Rembrandt group chairman Johann Rupert has been toying with the idea of leaving the country and has been frustrated at being painted as a white monopoly capitalist.

This is a concern because Rupert’s entities are the country’s biggest taxpayers. “It makes it very clear that Richemont and Rembrandt made their money overseas rather than South Africa and bring dividends back – and they are the biggest taxpayer,” says Hogg of the book.

Du Toit also unpicks the activities of former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, who is caught up in a number of court cases in connection with financial irregularities that have knocked the multinational retailer, taking it to the brink of collapse. Steinhoff has been in trouble since 2017, with its share price plummeting when Jooste left amid a cloud of allegations of impropriety.

Jooste is a party animal, constantly out and about, wining and dining. But he is not liked in Stellenbosch circles, says Du Toit.

“Jooste has been a divisive figure in Stellenbosch. They were put off by the way Steinhoff announced itself in town, establishing its headquarters right next to Remgro offices,” says Du Toit of the general sentiment in business circles.

Steinhoff executives drove expensive cars and had expensive parties and houses. Mid-level managers’ wives were driven around by chauffeurs, notes Du Toit.

The brag around the braai was “How many Steinies do you have?” – a reference to Steinhoff shares.

Du Toit and Hogg discuss the story of Jurie Roux, who some reckon should be behind bars for crookery after abusing his position as head of the rugby club and university finances. “This is an under-reported story… KPMG did a deep dive into rugby club and university finances and there are serious allegations of financial impropriety. He was sued to the tune of R35m. Now there is an off-the-books mediation to try to come to an agreement,” says Du Toit.

Other powerful business figures who feature in Du Toit’s best-seller include Edward Hertzog, chairman of MediClinic, who shares his frustration in trying to assist the government to improve the healthcare system. “MediClinic pumps expertise into the sector but just gets hostility from the government,” Du Toit tells Hogg.