Elusive Jooste is ‘hiding’ in plain sight

Where in the world is Markus Jooste?

That has been a prevailing question ever since the disgraced Steinhoff chief executive stepped down because of fraud allegations and the company lost 98% of its value.

A billionaire and an avid horse breeder based in Stellenbosch, he was often in the public eye — but he has seemingly gone to ground since the Steinhoff scandal broke on December 6 last year.

There have been rumours that he is hiding in Namibia or on a horse farm in Argentina, but the reality is less exotic.

READ MORE: Markus Jooste no ‘puppet master’

“Mr Jooste is in the country,” was the brief emailed response from his Cape Town-based lawyer this week.

According to Cape locals he is “hiding” in plain sight.

Former Steinhoff chairperson and Stellenbosch resident Christo Wiese told the Mail & Guardian he had “not seen or heard” from Jooste since December 6 last year although he had heard he was around.

“People occasionally tell me they saw him at a restaurant. Four or five weeks ago someone said they had seen him in Hermanus with friends.

“Certainly, I have not seen him,” said Wiese, one of the biggest losers in the saga, with much of his wealth tied up in Steinhoff and an estimated personal loss of R50-billion. “One of my relatives saw him at one place and walked straight out.”

But Jooste had not been seen at the places he used to frequent and had not been near the farm he shares with Steinhoff executives Danie van der Merwe and Frikkie Nel, Wiese said.

Wiese was fairly sure Jooste was in the Cape. “I have no reason to believe anything else … but with him [Jooste] you just don’t know.”

READ MORE: Parliament committee resolves to subpoena Markus Jooste

A legal expert who asked not to be named said, according to the Insolvency Act, if someone left the country to evade or delay the payment of debts, it would amount to an act of insolvency, and would allow for a sequestration application to be brought against the person.

A prominent Stellenbosch local, who lost money invested in Steinhoff and also did not want to be named, said Jooste had not shown his face in the town where many investors and former friends who had been caught up in the Steinhoff saga live. “They would hunt him down,” the source said.

Last week, Parliament resolved to subpoena Jooste after he, through his lawyer, declined to appear before the standing committee on finance.

The Hawks said investigations into several cases related to Steinhoff are ongoing.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders