Home » Billionaire Johann Rupert’s golf estate battles municipality in South Africa

Billionaire Johann Rupert’s golf estate battles municipality in South Africa

The dispute centers on a significant discrepancy between the municipality’s initial valuation of $82.6 million and Leopard Creek’s counter-valuation of $18 million.

by Timilehin Adejumobi
Johann Rupert

Key Points


  • South African billionaire Johann Rupert’s Leopard Creek golf estate faces off against the Nkomazi municipality in court over a valuation dispute.
  • The municipality valued the property at R1.5 billion ($82.6 million) while Leopard Creek claims a value of R330 million ($18 million). 
  • Leopard Creek argues the high valuation and recent rate hike strain finances and threatens development.

Leopard Creek Golf Estate, a luxury golf estate owned by South African billionaire Johann Rupert, braces for a fresh round in its protracted battle with the Nkomazi municipality. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has scheduled a hearing for August 27, 2024, to adjudicate on the municipality’s appeal regarding the estate’s valuation.

The dispute centers on a significant discrepancy between the municipality’s initial valuation of R1.5 billion ($82.6 million) and Leopard Creek’s counter-valuation of R330 million ($18 million), supported by independent experts. The Mpumalanga High Court sided with Leopard Creek in 2023, prompting the municipality’s appeal to the SCA. 

Leopard Creek faces financial strain amid municipal rate hike

Rupert claims the recent substantial rate hike by Nkomazi puts a financial strain on Leopard Creek, which independently manages utilities and infrastructure. He further accuses the municipality of jeopardizing potential hotel development in the Kruger National Park-adjacent region by attempting to exploit existing members.

David Nagle, a property expert who advocated for Leopard Creek in court, highlighted the market’s oversupply of golf estates, leading to discounted property sales. However, he argues that while golf courses themselves might not be direct profit generators, they significantly enhance the value of surrounding properties within the estate.

Billionaire’s playground: Leopard Creek Golf Community

Leopard Creek, established in 1996 by South Africa’s richest man Johann Rupert, spans 360 hectares and includes 251 residential plots with prime riverfront and Kruger National Park views. This exclusive estate fosters a close-knit community of golf enthusiasts. 

Rupert, with a net worth of $13.6 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, primarily derives his wealth from Richemont, owning 6.26 million “A” shares and 522 million “B” shares. He owns 50 stands within Leopard Creek, each granting him four memberships, while Leopard Creek Investments holds 47 non-purchasable stands. 

Leopard Creek hosts the annual Alfred Dunhill Cup and features an 18-hole golf course designed by Gary Player, a 3,600-square-meter clubhouse, 97 residential sites, tennis and squash courts, a swimming pool, and a gym.

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