Gayton McKenzie’s net worth is estimated at $4 million (R74.9 million) as of 2024. He mainly made his money from mining, public speaking, and publishing businesses. He is also a politician who serves as the leader of the Patriotic Alliance (PA).
Gayton McKenzie, in a bid to escape poverty, became a gangster in his teens. He was making R150 per week as a gang member while other kids were paid R10 a week working at the local café. After serving a prison sentence for bank robbery, he took a new leaf and ventured into a fishing and poultry business, making him a rand millionaire. He further built his net worth by authoring and publishing best-seller books and owning a mining consultancy.
How Much is Gayton McKenzie Worth?
Gayton McKenzie’s net worth is estimated to be $4 million (R74.9 million) in 2024. While he made huge money from gangsterism in his youth, he squandered it on a lavish lifestyle. After gaining parole in 2003, it was hard for Gayton to find a corporate job as an ex-convict. He was then advised to go into public speaking.
Initially, he attached no charges to his motivational talks, but later on, he started charging per hour, from R5,000 to R50,000 per hour. Along the line, Gayton McKenzie was motivated to write about his life story, and his books sold thousands of copies. He has penned more than five books to date. As a businessman, the Bloemfontein native has invested in diverse businesses, including a mining, publishing, fishing, and poultry business, as well as a nightclub business.
Gayton McKenzie’s Net Worth Sources
Gayton McKenzie has made his wealth from diverse income sources. He is a man whose rags-to-riches story has influenced many lives. Here are the revenue streams that account for his staggering wealth.
Gayton McKenzie is one of the most sought-after speakers in South Africa. After his release from jail in 2003, he embarked on a national campaign to combat the high levels of crime in the country. He became an advocate against crime and thus, visited many schools and universities, giving inspirational talks with his life story.
He also has addressed parents and businesspeople with his hard-hitting and engaging speeches. When he first started speaking at schools in Cape Town, he collected no money for his services. He then spent some years without taking a single day off and invested much time training himself to become a great speaker. After gaining momentum steadily, Gayton McKenzie decided to start charging R2,000 per talk.
He later increased it to R5,000 a talk and was still getting fully booked. As a result, he made his talks more expensive, and he was still sought after. He then got braver and began charging per hour. At some corporate talks, he would charge R50,000 per hour, and some companies were willing to pay that.
Over the years, he has addressed more than 2 million SA school children and partnered with various corporate sponsors, including JAG Sports and Education Foundation, Chubb Electronic Security, and Nike. McKenzie was also voted the top corporate speaker in the country for several years. Additionally, he has had international engagements, speaking in countries like Greece and the United Kingdom.
Gayton McKenzie published his prison autobiography entitled “The Choice: The Gayton McKenzie Story” in 2006. At first, he printed 10,000 copies, which were sold out, and another 40,000 copies were subsequently printed. As the demand kept on getting high, he joined forces with his business partner and best friend, Kenny Kunene, to sell the book to schools. They sold the book everywhere in South Africa and sometimes slept in the car when they could not afford a hotel.
Inspired by the book’s anti-crime message, the chief executive of Central Rand Gold, Greg James, bought 80,000 copies of the two versions of “The Choice” in June 2007. He donated the books to the schools in the Western Cape. Interestingly, McKenzie’s autobiography was a bestseller. He additionally wrote other best-selling books including, “A Hustler’s Bible” and “The Uncomfortable Truth”.
The first run of “A Hustler’s Bible” recorded 20,000 book sales in three days as the esteemed speaker sold his books at every one of his speaking gigs. Many other books authored by Gayton McKenzie include:
- A Hustler’s Bible: The New Testament
- Kill Zuma By Any Means Necessary
Gayton McKenzie used the money realized from the book sales to start up a small mining consultancy. Also, together with Kunene, he established a publishing firm called XConcepts Publications.
Fishing and Poultry Business
In the early 2000s, Gayton McKenzie partnered with Kenny Kunene to start up a fishing and poultry company. They initially sold fish and chicken from the boot of their cars before buying four trucks for the business. They also hired a refrigerated warehouse, which helped the business thrive.
The 49-year-old made his first R100,000 as well as his first million from the fishing and poultry business. Eventually, he and Kunene sold the company for profit to venture into other businesses.
McKenzie and his friend, Kenny Kunene, co-owned a mining consultancy. The firm helped Central Rand Gold (CRG), which began working behind the scenes in 2006 to obtain a mining license, get the mining rights in November 2008. Hence, CRG reopened a closed historic mining shaft in George Harrison Park near Riverlea.
Gayton was employed by the mining company in 2006 as the group executive and was in charge of social development and community participation. He reportedly received share options worth hundreds of thousands of rands. Also, at the time, Gayton McKenzie’s net worth was boosted by the monthly salary of R243,000 he earned for his role. However, due to the differences he had with the directors, he left CRG in 2009.
In the next year, McKenzie and Kunene started a mining operation in Zimbabwe. Gayton McKenzie later took international football legend Luis Figo to his gold-mining project at Fort Rixon – a mining area about 77km northwest of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He later secured funds from foreign investors and also clinched a start-up funding of about R140 million for a R700 million mining project in another African country.
Furthermore, Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie became part owners of about three to four companies. Also, in 2010, their mining consultancy was hired by Gold Fields to convert a mining license, which they did in six months. Subsequently, Gold Fields asked Gayton McKenzie’s firm to identify empowerment partners for a 9% stake in its South Deep mine. The consultancy company put the deal worth R2.1 billion together and charged north of R2 million a month for its services.
However, Gayton McKenzie was alleged to have handed his associates stakes worth more than R330 million from the deal. He later opened up in 2013, stating that the controversial BEE deal ruined his reputation as CRG was allegedly under pressure from the government to include specific shareholders in the deal. And when the deal went wrong, fingers were pointed at him. Consequently, he had to close down his mining consultancy because of negative publicity.
Before taking to motivational speaking full-time, Gayton McKenzie’s net worth was upped by the salary he earned working in the corporate world. He left Bloemfontein for Paarl in Cape Town to avoid a life of crime. There, he was hired by Chubb Electronic Security and was paid R1,000 monthly. He excelled at the job, and his monthly salary was raised to R60,000.
He eventually left Chubb Electronic Security to join Nike. He worked with the company for a year and then joined Central Rand Gold as an executive, including becoming an acting CEO. At some point in his corporate career, Gayton McKenzie earned R1.5 million per month in salary.
McKenzie was the chairman of ZAR Lounge, a popular upmarket nightclub in Cape Town. He co-owned the club with his best friend, Kenny Kunene. The businessmen later opened the ZAR club in Johannesburg and further planned to establish the brand in Durban and Mozambique before its closure.
Though McKenzie made money from organizing ZARfest, which was operated by his company ZAR Empire, he shut down ZAR Lounge in October 2013 to focus on politics. He made the decision after the nightclub was taken to court by Cape Royale The Residence over unpaid rent, levies, and electricity bills totaling almost R1 million. He eventually settled out of court with Cape Royal The Residence and then lost interest in the nightclub business.
On November 30th, 2013, Gayton McKenzie launched a political party called Patriotic Alliance (PA) together with Kenny Kunene and other politicians. He was elected the party’s first president, while Kunene serves as the deputy president. In the following year, the party contested in the national and provincial elections in South Africa.
Later in April 2022, McKenzie became the Mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality. Before then, he served as the Representative Councillor for the PA in the Laingsburg Council. On taking up the mayoral role, the millionaire businessman announced that he would only stay in office for one year. He also pledged 100% of his salary to fix the municipality and refused a state vehicle.
A few months later, Gayton McKenzie was accused by the SACP of misleading the people. Afterward, he disclosed his payslip and payment record on Twitter. Keeping to his promise not to use the municipality’s money to work, Gayton organized the Sandton gala fundraiser, from which he realized R3 million. He was, however, accused by the DA of embezzling the money after he resigned on May 2nd, 2023.
The party demanded answers about the missing millions as the money was never transferred to the municipality’s bank account, while it was intended to be allocated towards service delivery in the district. McKenzie’s spokesperson later disclosed that the money was paid into the PA’s legal trust account as the former Mayor had repeatedly hinted that the officials in the municipality were looting millions from the bank account.
Additionally, Gayton McKenzie and Kunene, who were reported to be friends of the former president, Jacob Zuma, were linked to a R5 million BEE gas deal with Rosego, a Russian firm, in September 2017. The two were reportedly introduced to the Russian state geological company as potential BEE partners by then security minister David Mahlobo. McKenzie, however, denied the report and stated that he does not do business with the state.
Did Gayton McKenzie Make Money as a Bank Robber?
Gayton McKenzie did make money from robbing banks, but he squandered it on an extravagant lifestyle. He knew at the age of eight that he would be a criminal. Hence, he got involved in gangsterism and robbed his first bank before he turned 16. He then became a fully-fledged gangster and was involved in many heists and robberies.
In 1996, an accomplice sold him out to the police, and he was sentenced to 17 years in prison. He subsequently spent his whole youth in jail after fulfilling a 10-year sentence before getting parole. While in prison, Gayton McKenzie made money from selling drugs and anything that could be sold in prison. He joined the 26 gang and emerged as the most powerful and feared prisoner.
Along with his gang members, McKenzie ran the prison like a business and was getting a percentage from the sales of anything sold in Grootvlei Prison, Bloemfontein. He and three other inmates, including Kenny Kunene, later exposed the illicit activities going on in the prison. They sent video footage to the Office of the President and the Jali Commission.
Afterward, Gayton McKenzie spent a hellish year in prison before his release in 2003. During such time, he was no longer making money on the side and spent the money he had made. Consequently, he came out of the Grootvlei Prison with only R12.
Where is Gayton McKenzie’s House Located?
In the year 2013, Gayton McKenzie lived in an apartment overlooking Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. In 2021, it was reported that his R1.6 million house located at Randpark Ridge in Johannesburg was on the verge of being repossessed by Nedbank. It happened that he used the property as a covering mortgage bond for the R1.2 million loan his company, XConcepts Publications took from Nedbank in September 2008.
His company failed to repay over R700,000 outstanding balance of the loan. As a result, Nedbank filed a lawsuit against XConcepts Publications at the Joburg High Court and asked the court for an order to auction Gayton McKenzie’s house to offset the debt.
In addition, the Patriotic Alliance leader reportedly owns properties across the country.
Gayton McKenzie’s Cars
Gayton McKenzie owned a white Audi R8 Spyder worth R2 million. With it, he attended Duduzile Zuma‘s wedding to businessman Lonwabo Sambudla in April 2011. He, however, wrecked the car beyond repair on his way back from the wedding as the supercar flew off the road, crashed through a fence, and stopped in a field. It also knocked down an Eskom power pole.
Afterward, it was speculated that McKenzie was planning to buy a multimillion-rand Maybach limousine at the time, but the rumor was never confirmed. Furthermore, in 2018, he showed off another of his cars – a white BMW E30 325iS on IG, and the car is valued at over R400,000.