Steinhoff’s Markus Jooste gave his old school R10 million, but no-one wants to touch it
- Markus Jooste donated R10 million to a school trust before Steinhoff went bang.
- The trust has ringfenced the money until it has more information on where the money came from.
- And if the money is ethically rather than legally encumbered, it will have to figure out what to do.
A R10 million donation from the former CEO of Steinhoff has been carefully ring fenced by a old-boys trust for the benefit of one of South Africa’s top schools.
There is no evidence – yet – that the money is dirty, the trust says, but it is not taking any chances with either the law or public sentiment.
Various organisations and authorities in different parts of the world have promised to investigate Jooste’s role in what has been called the biggest fraud in South African corporate history when the decades-old company collapsed in a matter of days.
If the outcome of any such investigation shows the R10 million donation was irregular – or just ethically dubious – the trust wants to be able to move quickly.
Jooste matriculated from the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (the Afrikaans Boys High School) affectionately known as Affies, in 1978.
To mark the 100 year anniversary of the school coming up in 2020, old boys set up the Affie 100 Fonds (Afrikaans for fund) and called for donations.
The fund was set up and is run independent of the school, as a community project for the benefit of the school. It aims to make donations for specific projects to maintain Affies as as top-tier school, and prepare it for the next 100 years.
The fund this week told Business Insider South Africa that Jooste had made a donation in his personal capacity. There was no evidence that the money had come from Steinhoff.
Yet the fund is playing it safe.
“Right now we have no facts to say that [the donation] was improper, but we made a prudent management decision,” says fund spokesperson Bernard du Plessis.
The money has been transferred to a separate, interest-earning account. Trustees have decreed it will only be used once and if they are satisfied it is not encumbered – either by law or perception.
A clawback of money if Jooste is sequestrated is one risk the trust is guarding against, Du Plessis said. Association with money earned in an undesirable way is another.
Du Plessis would not speculate on what the trust would do if it found ethical problems with the money, but had no clear government or institution to give it to.
The trust has attracted donations from various “high profile organisations” as well as through bequest, Du Plessis says.