Until today, billionaire South African Tokyo Sexwale (prounced “seh-wa-le,” unfortunately) was the country’s housing minister.
But Jacob Zuma’s leadership shake-up saw Sexwale — the major anti-apartheid crusader and diamond mogul considered to be a political challenger to the president — removed from the cabinet.
Sexwale has a crazy life story to go with that name (the “Tokyo” moniker derives from his childhood love of karate).
In the late 1970s, he was charged with terrorism and conspiracy and sent to Robben Island where he met fellow political prisoner Nelson Mandela, who had been sent there 12 years prior.
Sexwale was released in 1990, and like something out a movie, he ended up marrying Judy van Vuuren, the paralegal that represented him while he was in prison.
When he came to power in 1994, Mandela named Sexwale premier of Gauteng province, the region home to both Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Sexwale would eventually leave politics for business, becoming a major oil and diamond mining magnate, though his name was floated as a possible successor to Mandela. That honour would go to Thabo Mbeki. In 2007, Sexwale reportedly planned to challenge Mbeki, but never did.
Things would also turn sour for Sexwale’s marriage, scandalizing South Africa with a bitter divorce in February. It got ugly. Sexwale accused his wife of emailing out illegal hardcore pornography while she accused him of shielding his finances.
Those finances are impressive. Sexwale made an absolute fortune from his company, which was once lauded by fellow diamond tycoon Harry Oppenheimer. In 2009, Sexwale declared his wealth to be approximately $2 billion rand (nearly $200 million).
The divorce also helped shine some light on all of Sexwale’s toys too: the requisite yacht, vineyards, Learjet, and even a $70 million island.
In 2009, Zuma appointed Sexwale as Minister of Human Settlements, but it was no secret that Sexwale still had presidential aspirations.
Now out of power, those ambitions will have to wait. At least this is his new girlfriend.
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