'ANC Youth League like mosquito'
THE Rupert family hits back at criticism
THE Rupert family had a history of funding SA's previous apartheid regime, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) said yesterday.
As part of its reaction to questions about ANCYL president Julius Malema's trust fund, the ANCYL said it was the Rupert family who were the majority shareholder of "the Afrikaner- dominated and controlled Naspers Group of which senior management is 100 percent white and male".
The ANCYL added that Naspers owned Media24 which controlled Rapport, Beeld, City Press, and the Daily Sun newspapers.
It was the City Press newspaper that recently claimed Limpopo businessmen were paying money into Malema's trust fund account in return for government tenders, which the ANCYL has strongly denied.
However, Johann Rupert, told I-Net Bridge/BusinessLIVE from London that the family had never funded apartheid.
"The ANCYL is like a mosquito in one's tent," he said.
Rupert said it was news to him - and it would be news to Naspers' Koos Bekker too - that the Rupert family had any influence over the media group.
"If we have any shares, they are miniscule - it could only be a couple of thousand shares that my late father (Anton Rupert) owned originally."
Instead, Johann Rupert is chairman of luxury goods group Richemont.
The ANCYL also said it wanted to know how much farm and agricultural land the Rupert family owned in SA today and how the family had acquired this land. "The Rupert family ... will do everything in their power to maintain the status quo of massive racialised wealth inequalities in SA. The Rupert family has been an anchor to most apartheid leaders, and would do everything to sustain remnants of apartheid-accumulated wealth," it asserted.
Rupert, who was clearly amused at the ANCYL's allegations, said both he and his father had been criticised in the past by Naspers for being against apartheid. "People know it and the ANC leaders know it."
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu could not be reached for comment.
This, however, was not the first time that the Rupert family had been attacked by the ANCYL.
"It's the fifth or sixth time they've had a go at our family, making allegations that we hide in Stellenbosch.
"My record and my family's record against racism speak for itself."
Indeed, Rupert's father, Anton, was described by former SA president Thabo Mbeki as being the man who encouraged the apartheid leadership to "do something brave" and create a partnership with the black majority back in the 1980s.
"If your neighbour does not eat, you will not sleep," Rupert senior once said in reference to the lack of economic opportunities for blacks prior to the advent of democracy in SA.
It came as no surprise when he clashed with Hendrik Verwoerd and PW Botha, both National Party leaders and prime ministers of SA.
Media24 said in a statement late on Wednesday that it had taken note of the ANCYL's statement "questioning Media24's integrity".
The group added that the Rupert family was not among the top 100 shareholders of either Naspers or Media24.
It also said that not one of the leaders of the top four operating entities of Naspers' South African businesses was a white male.
"The statement is factually incorrect and misleading in all its averments."