Angola’s dos Santos family empire in the firing line

Law enforcement agencies are cracking down on the high profile family of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, accused of plundering revenues from the country’s vast oil wealth.

During dos Santos’ 38-year rule from 1979, his offspring occupied top positions in the government and in lucrative sectors ranging from banking, telecoms and media to oil.

Dos Santos’s anointed successor João Lourenço is now dismantling the patronage network since coming to power in 2017.

Lourenco has led a purge of the administration as well as public companies, targeting dos Santos’s relatives who have benefitted from nepotism.

Isabel: ‘Africa’s richest woman’

Scornfully dubbed ‘the princess’ by Angolans, the 46-year-old is dos Santos’s eldest daughter and the public face of the family empire.

Dubbed Africa’s richest woman by US magazine Forbes with a fortune estimated at $2.2-billion, Isabel dos Santos headed national oil company Sonangol but was forced out by her father’s successor shortly after he came to power.

Last month, an Angolan court ordered a freeze on her bank accounts and assets.

Isabel dos Santos and her Congolese husband, Sindika Dokolo, are suspected of having embezzled a billion dollars from the public firms Sonangol (oil) and Sodiam (diamonds).

She has denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations “lies,” “fake news” and “politically motivated.”

Isabel has amassed billions and owns stakes in Banco de Formento Angola — the country’s leading private bank, drinks distributor Sodiba and construction material producer Cimangola.

Jose Filomeno: the indicted son

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, 41, also known as “Zenu” has become the first member of the dos Santos clan to be prosecuted.

Currently on trial with three others including former central bank governor Valter Filipe da Silva, he is accused of allegedly stealing $1.5-billion from Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund which he headed from 2013 when his father was in power.

Filomeno dos Santos was fired from the fund manager post in 2017 by President Lourenço.

He was later placed in pre-trial detention in September 2018 and was released six months later pending his trial, which opened last month in the capital Luanda.

He faces a maximum prison sentence of 12 years, if convicted. He has denied all charges of money laundering and embezzlement.

Tchize: the media magnate

An influential figure in the Angolan media, 42-year-old Welwitschia is dos Santos’s second daughter and half-sister of Isabel.

Popularly known as ‘Tchize’, she has controlled one of Angola’s leading multimedia and advertising agencies.

Much like most of the dos Santos family, Welwitschia dos Santos has moved abroad, claiming threats from the Angola secret service.

She was recently suspended from parliament, where she served from 2008, after lawmakers voted that her extended absence amounted to unjust enrichment.

Ana Paula: the businesswoman wife

The former air hostess was Angola’s first lady for 26 years from 1991. She and the former president have three children together.

The businesswoman owns a stake in a number of companies in Luanda, including a private airline.

Subscribe to the M&G

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.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

External source

Related stories


Subscribers only

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

Q&A Sessions: George Euvrard, the brains behind our cryptic crossword

George Euvrard spoke to Athandiwe Saba about his passion for education, clues on how to solve his crosswords and the importance of celebrating South Africa.

More top stories

No way out for Thales in arms deal case, court...

The arms manufacturer has argued that there was no evidence to show that it was aware of hundreds of indirect payments to Jacob Zuma, but the court was not convinced.

Inside George Mukhari hospital’s second wave

The Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism and James Oatway visited George Mukhari academic hospital to document the second-wave realities experienced by doctors and nurses

Power shift at Luthuli House

Ace Magashule’s move to distance himself from Carl Niehaus signals a rebalancing of influence and authority at the top of the ANC

Trump slinks off world stage, leaving others to put out...

What his supporters and assorted right-wingers will do now in a climate that is less friendly to them is anyone’s guess

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…