Tokyo Sexwale

Tokyo Sexwale or Mosima Gabriel as he is known, is one among the circle of  interesting South Africans.

The child who would grow to be one of the richest men in South Africa at some point in time, was born as a third child in a family of six on March 5th 1953 in Orlando West, Johannesburg.

His earliest experience in a South Africa that was defined by race, shaped a large chunk of his future as an activist and a politician.

Tokyo Sexwale: Education

Mosima began his earliest education at St Martins Primary school in Johannesburg. From there he moved to Orlando high where he graduated in 1973. The name “Tokyo” was given to him as a result of his love for karate when he was young.

Even as a student, Tokyo got involved in activism. In his high school days Tokyo became involved in the activities of the African National Congress (ANC). Soon he became a leader of the South African Student’s Movement (SASM), which was a radical movement. He was as well a member of Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement.

Education took Tokyo to Swaziland where he got a certificate in Business Studies from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. He however couldn’t finish his Bachelor’s degree in Swaziland as a result of fears of arrest when his activities with ANC where discovered.
Sexwale moved to the Soviet Union. There, he underwent a political and military training in Moscow.

The Struggle against Apartheid

After he was done with his program in Moscow, Tokyo returned to south Africa with a bag full of knowledge to assist in salvaging the black South Africa. This was not to be however, as he was arrested with 11 others for terrorism and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

After the trail that lasted almost two years, the Supreme Court of South Africa sentenced him to 18 years in prison. Like Mandela, Sexwale was kept at Robben island Maximum-security prison. There, he continued his education and got degree from the University of South Africa. This however was after he was released from prison as his study privileges didn’t go smoothly.

After spending 13 years in prison, Tokyo was released in 1990, following an agreement by National party and African National Congress.

After leaving prison Sexwale married his lover, Judy van Vuuren in 1994. The union began when he was in prison. The marriage that seemed like made for forever, crashed with a loud sensation 20 years after.

Judy van Vuuren who accused Sexwale of “physical, verbal, mental and emotional abuse and cruelty”, had two children for him.

After the marriage crashed, Sexwale moved on with his girlfriend , Nataxa da Silva. It has been reported that the 20 something year old Silva has a child for Sexwale.

Political and Professional Life

Sine from his release in 1990, Tokyo Sexwale had held various offices. Between 1990 and 1991 he served as an executive member of the ANC. From that year till 1997 he was chairman of ANC in Guateng region. More so, he was premier of Guateng provincial Government between 1994 and 1998.

After 1998, Sexwale stayed away from politics and delved into business. He was Non-Executive director of Barclays Africa Group Ltd between 2001 and 2008. From 2002 to 2007 he remained the Executive Chairman at Mvelaphanda Holdings Limited.

In preparation for hosting the world cup in 2010, Tokyo Sexwale served as a member of the World Cup 2010 Preparatory committee between 2004 and 2010.

He served as minister of Human settlement under Jacob Zuma from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that in 2007, he aspired to serve as the president of South Africa. He withdrew from the race however and supported Jacob Zuma.

After the suspension of Sepp Blatter and call for election into the office of FIFA President, Tokyo Sexwale joined the race. With CAF deciding to back Bahrain’s Sheik Salman Bin Ebrahim however, Sexwale’s hopes dimmed and he stepped down shortly before the first round of voting.


Sexwale was not a man without controversies. A very popular controversy he was involved in was a claim that he had planned with others to depose President Thabo Mbeki from office in 2001. He vehemently denied the accusations, with the backing of Nelson Mandela.

Another case that involved him was as regards the Oil-for-Food-Programme established by UN to help Iraq in selling oil in the world market to enable them solve their humanitarian needs. Tokyo’s name was mentioned in relation to some illegal dealings was mentioned.