From Being Friends With Mandela to a Scandalous Love Life, Billionaire Douw Steyn's Lives an Intriguing Life

From Being Friends With Mandela to a Scandalous Love Life, Billionaire Douw Steyn's Lives an Intriguing Life

Billionaire Douw Steyn has made a name for himself by founding one of the biggest insurance companies in South Africa and the United Kingdom. However, Steyn's life is not all about business, the insurance tycoon has a knack for philanthropy and has interesting ties to South African politics.

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Briefly News takes a look at Douw Steyn's life, his achievements, his friendship with the late Nelson Mandela and his relationship scandals.

Billionaire Douw Steyn was friends with Nelson Mandela
Billionaire Douw Steyn was really close friends with the late Nelson Mandela. Images: @TheRealest201/Twitter & Darryl Hammond
Source: Getty Images

1. How Douw Steyn became wealthy

Douw Steyn is one of South Africa's wealthiest people, with an impressive net worth of R42 billion. In 2021, Steyn was featured on the United Kingdom's Sunday Times rich list and was ranked 84th.

Most of his wealth comes from his company BGL Group, which he founded in 1992. The company is a UK-based insurance and financial services firm. The company has well-known insurance subsidiaries in South Africa such as Budget Insurance and Dial Direct.

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When Steyn founded his company in 1992, the firm was solely focused on underwriting but that changed in 1997 when the company ventured into brokering.

In February 2012, the BGL Group announced that Steyn had stepped down as the company's chairman. At the time, the firm stated that Steyn had not played an active role in the company for a while, according to Insurance Times.

The company also decided not to find a replacement for Steyn.

Steyn is also linked to other insurance companies such as Auto & General, and Telesure Investment Holdings, according to StartUp Mag.

2. Douw Steyn's close relationship with Nelson Mandela explained

A lot of people might be surprised to learn that Nelson Mandela and Douw Steyn shared a close relationship.

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Mandela was perhaps fortunate to have a dear friend such as Douw Steyn. The insurance mogul welcomed Mandela into his home upon his release from Robben Island in 1990.

According to Financial Times, Steyn housed Mandela in his Johannesburg home located in the suburb of Sandhurst. Madiba spent six months at Steyn's house and in that time Mandela edited his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and drafted South Africa’s interim constitution.

Steyn welcomed Mandela back into his home in 1992 after his separation and subsequent divorce from Winnie Madikizela Mandela. Their friendship continued to blossom over the years.

Steyn gave Madiba one of the best gifts money can buy after establishing Shambala Game Reserve in Limpopo. According to Forbes, the billionaire built Madiba a private villa for whenever he wanted to relax with his new wife Graça Machel.

Mandela's former assistant Zelda la Grange wrote in her memoir that uTata and Machel once visited Steyn at his Waterberg game reserve and when they returned Madiba stated that Steyn offered to build them a house.

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La Grange added that the couple could not refuse the billionaire's generous offer because he was not a man to turn down.

"In no time, he [Douw Styen] built the most beautiful house on the farm, before even completing his own," said La Grange.

3. Douw Steyn's giving nature and response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Douw Steyn's generosity knows no bounds and the insurance tycoon was one of the few billionaires who stepped up when the global pandemic hit.

Through the Douw Steyn Family Trust, the businessman pledged R320 million for Covid-19 relief efforts. According to News24, R50 million of the donation went to the National Solidarity fund and R200 million went to feeding schemes in areas such as Diepsloot.

Steyn also step up a relief fund of R70 million through his company, Telesure Investment Holdings for small businesses affected by the pandemic.

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The businessman's charity work did not end there. The Steyn City foundation was set up to specifically cater to Diepsloot residents.

4. Douw Steyn was not always lucky in love

Douw Steyn's love life is something out of a drama series. Although business success seemed to come easy for Steyn, his personal love life was not thriving much for a while.

According to InsurTech, Steyn met a young beautiful aspiring actress called Carolyn Barkhuizen in 2003. The South African actress had ambitions of becoming a Hollywood actress when the pair met.

Their relationship blossomed rather quickly and the couple was soon married after five months of dating. The marriage did not last long and Barkhuizen moved to Los Angelos before their divorce. Their nuptials only lasted for six months.

Douw Steyn's tumalutous relationship with Donne Botha

Steyn quickly bounced back after his marriage ended and in 2005 he began dating a South African socialite, Donne Botha. The couple did not have an easy relationship and in 2008, Botha caught Steyn in bed with a beautician, Bianca Ferranti, at his Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg.

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Botha allegedly had to be stopped from hammering the beautician to death with a champagne bottle. She was arrested for her attack and handed a R3000 fine and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment which was suspended for three years.

Despite the incident, Steyn and Botha continued their relationship and even held a lavish ceremony in London.

According to News24, Botha believed that the event was a wedding ceremony, but the Durban High Court ruled that the pair was never married when she tried to get 50% of his estate.

The couple had sent out invitations for the ceremony and flew out South African guests to London and Steyn paid for their travel and stay.

Since the couple never got around to registering their "marriage" that meant Donna was not entitled to Steyn's money.

Donne Botha accuses Douw Steyn of abuse

A year after their relationship ended in 2009, Donna Botha accused the insurance mogul of abusing her. Botha claimed that Steyn assaulted her in 2006 and 2008, according to IOL.

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However, the matter never went to court because the National Director of Public Prosecutions decided against prosecution. Botha later pursued private protection processes.

Steyn's attorney, Sharon Wapnick, stated that Botha only accused the mogul of abuse because he refused to pay her R30 million when their relationship ended.

Steyn gets remarried after a long court battle with his ex, Donna Botha

Carolyn Barkhuizen and Douw Steyn rekindled their relationship shortly after Steyn ended his disastrous relationship with Donna Botha.

The couple decided to get hitched again and have been married since February 2010, a few days before Botha accused the business mogul of abuse.

5. Billionaire Douw Steyn uses his wealth to build himself a city

In 2015, the billionaire insurance tycoon decided to build his own city situated in Fourways and Lanseria. The 900-hectare housing development was spearheaded by Steyn and Giuseppe Plumari and it drew R6.5 billion in investments, according to BusinessTech.

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Steyn City is now home to over 1 000 residents and it has an apartment block, a school, a college and an impressive golf course.

Steyn City is still in development and the business mogul has been able to secure R5.5 billion to finish the project. In a few years, Steyn City will have its own beach and become a fully functional smart city, with its own water reservoir and generators to protect against disruptions to services.

Billionaires Patrice Motsepe, Douw Steyn & others live in Mzansi’s most luxurious house, cheapest being R36m

Briefly News previously reported that when you have a lot of money in your bank account, splurging on a house that costs millions is merely a luxury you cannot forgo. South African billionaires are not shy about spending top money to live in the country's fanciest homes.

Briefly News looks at some of the most luxurious houses owned by African billionaires. You might be surprised to learn that one man built his own "city" to house his state-of-the-art palace.

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1. Douw Steyn builds R250 million palace on his private estate

South African billionaire Douw Steyn made waves when he announced a development project in Fourways and Lanseria, Johannesburg, called "Steyn City".

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