Billionaire Sol Kerzner dies: Exploring the rise of SA's resort king

Billionaire Sol Kerzner dies: Exploring the rise of SA's resort king

- Businessman Solomon (Sol) Kerzner passed away in his Cape Town home recently

- Kerzner's claim to fame was founding SA's two largest hotel groups explores the life and achievements of this Mzansi billionaire

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Solomon Kerzner passed away over the weekend at his Cape Town family home aged 84.

A South African accountant and business magnate, Kerzner enjoyed a career that spanned over four decades in the resort industry.

Sol founded two of Mzansi's largest hotel groups, the Southern Sun Hotel Group and Sun International.

Obtaining his honours in B.Com Accounting from the University of the Witwatersrand, Kerzner went on the run his family's hotel chain. This was despite being the youngest of four children.

In 1962, Kerzner purchased the Astra Hotel in Durban and enjoyed immense success for his effort. After this, he built SA's first five-star hotel in Umhlanga, the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Seven years later, the Southern Sun Hotel chain was established and would include 20 luxury hotels only four years later.

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In 1979, Kerzner started the ten-year project that would be the most ambitious resort project in Africa- Sun City.

The resort boasted four hotels, a man-made lake, two championship golf courses and a 6 000-seat arena.

In 1985, a group of rock musicians called Artists United Against Apartheid collaborated to release an anti-apartheid album titled Sun City.

This prompted the late Nelson Mandela to ask Kerzner to host the VIP function at the Presidential Inauguration, which was attended by world leaders and heads of state.

Kerzner would go onto open numerous international resorts in the United States and elsewhere.

However, it was not all rosy for the businessman, as UDM leader Bantu Holomisa was quick to point out following his death.

IOL reports that bribery allegations were levied against Kerzner in late 1980 over an alleged payment to former Transkei leader chief George Matanzima for an exclusive gambling licence.

When Holomisa overthrew the chief, an extradition request was formed with an eye to bringing Kerzner to justice.

However, the refusal of the homeland's attorney general to prosecute over a lack of evidence saw the magnate being let off the hook.

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