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2023-12-12 7:10 AM

South Africa’s Top Billionaires: 2023’s Wealth Fluctuations Revealed

  • Financial Ups and Downs: South Africa's top billionaires in 2023 witnessed a mixed year, with Johann Rupert notably increasing his net worth while Nicky Oppenheimer, Patrice Motsepe, and Michiel le Roux experienced declines compared to the previous year.
  • Ranking and Net Worth Changes: Forbes' rankings revealed shifts among the top five wealthiest South Africans, with Rupert leading, followed by Oppenheimer, Bekker, Motsepe, and le Roux, each experiencing alterations in global rankings and net worths.
  • Bloomberg's Contrasting Estimates: Bloomberg's billionaire index offered similar rankings for South African billionaires but differed in net worth estimations, highlighting Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer at the forefront, illustrating discrepancies in their calculated fortunes compared to Forbes' assessments.
By Miriam Matoma


South Africa’s economic landscape in 2023 witnessed a mixed chapter for its top-tier billionaires, as per Forbes’ real-time billionaire ranking. The year portrayed a tale of varied financial trajectories for the country’s wealthiest individuals, influencing both their standings and net worth positions.

In the realm of affluence, Johann Rupert, the luminary in luxury goods, maintained his dominance atop the roster of South Africa’s richest individuals. Alongside him, former diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, media magnate Koos Bekker, mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, and Capitec founder Michiel le Roux continued to hold their positions among the country’s financial elite.

Rupert remains the paragon of prosperity, standing as the lone South African billionaire to experience a noteworthy financial upswing in 2023. His net worth escalated by a substantial $400 million (R7.6 billion), further solidifying his economic supremacy.

Contrarily, Oppenheimer, Motsepe, and le Roux faced a decline in their financial standings compared to the preceding year, witnessing diminished net worths by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Forbes’ rankings exhibited a universal descent for all the mentioned billionaires, with Motsepe and le Roux plummeting by nearly 300 and over 400 spots, respectively, in the global billionaire hierarchy.

The standout figures in South Africa’s billionaire spectrum in December 2023:

  • Johann Rupert retained his prime position, moving from 202nd to 206th globally, amassing a net worth of $9.8 billion (R186.7 billion).
  • Nicky Oppenheimer slid from 226th to 276th globally, with a net worth decline to $8.3 billion (R158.1 billion).
  • Koos Bekker maintained his position at 1291st globally, holding a steady net worth of $2.4 billion (R45.7 billion).
  • Patrice Motsepe dropped from 1065th to 1324th globally, marking a reduced net worth of $2.3 billion (R43.8 billion).
  • Michiel le Roux experienced a significant fall from 2004th to 2433rd globally, with a decreased net worth of R1.1 billion (R20.9 billion).

The dispersal among South Africa’s top five wealthiest individuals delineated a considerable gap. Rupert stood tall, towering 70 spots above Oppenheimer, while Bekker trailed over 1,200 places behind. Motsepe relinquished his bronze status, slipping to fourth place, with le Roux trailing over 2,200 spots behind Rupert.

The Bloomberg Billionaire Index, utilizing different metrics for net worth calculation, echoed a similar ranking pattern for South Africa’s billionaires but with divergent estimations.

Johann Rupert led Bloomberg’s list with an estimated net worth of $11.7 billion (R223.3 billion), showing a significant $778 million (R14.8 billion) increase attributed to his control over Cie Financiere Richemont, among other assets.

Oppenheimer secured the second position on Bloomberg’s list, boasting a net worth of $9.43 billion (R179.9 billion), credited to private equity investments across continents through Stockdale Street and Tana Africa Capital.

Elon Musk, born in South Africa and now the CEO of Tesla, emerged as the foremost figure on Forbes’ billionaire rankings, boasting a colossal net worth of $248 billion (R4.7 trillion), showcasing a staggering increase of $49 billion (R935.6 billion) from the previous year.

France’s Bernard Arnault and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos followed Musk, with net worths of $197.2 billion (R3.7 trillion) and $169.7 billion (R3.2 trillion), respectively.

A noteworthy shift was observed in India’s Gautam Adani, previously the third richest globally in 2022, dropping to 16th place in 2023, signaling a substantial $35.4 billion (R676.5 billion) decrease in net worth as estimated by Bloomberg.

This dynamic flux in the fortunes of South Africa’s billionaires underscores the intricate interplay of global economic forces and individual financial ventures, portraying a vivid tale of triumphs, setbacks, and evolving fiscal landscapes.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam