Mosima Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale (born 5 March 1953) is a South African businessman,politician, anti-apartheid activist, and former political prisoner. Sexwale was imprisoned on Robben Island for his anti-apartheid activities, alongside figures such as Nelson Mandela. After the 1994 general election—the first fully democratic election in South Africa—Sexwale became the Premier of Gauteng Province. He served in the government of South Africa as Minister of Human Settlements from 2009 to 2013.

Tokyo Sexwale’s story needs to be made into a Hollywood movie.

Here are 8 things you didn’t know about South African mining magnate Tokyo Sexwale.

8. He’s in trouble with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.

Sexwale is one of three South African mining moguls named in an international bribery scandal by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission for enriching themselves over several years with millions of dollars of U.S. investor funds. An order dated Sept. 29 says Wall Street hedge fund manager, Och-Ziff Capital Management gave cash to
help South African partners pay off politicians in Chad, Niger, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo in exchange for mining rights.

7. He tried to broker peace through football between Israel and Palestine.


Sexwale served as a member of the board of the South Africa 2010 World Cup Organising Committee. Sepp Blatter invited him to serve on various FIFA committees, including working as the chief envoy on the task force attempting to settle footballing issues between Israel and Palestine. He was a candidate for the FIFA presidency in 2016.

6. How he got his nickname.

Mosima Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale, 63, was born in Soweto. His father was a clerk at Johannesburg General Hospital and served in World War II, fighting against the Germans. Sexwale got his nickname, “Tokyo,”  from his involvement with karate as a youth. Sexwale has two children with his first wife, and two with his second wife.

5.He trained in the Soviet Union military while in exile.

Sexwale became a member of the Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement in the late 1960s and became a local leader of the radical South African Students’ Movement. In the early 1970s, he joined the African National Congress’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (“spear of the nation”). In 1975, Sexwale went into exile, undergoing military officers’ training in the Soviet Union, where he specialized in military engineering.

4.Zuma fired him but there’s no bad blood.

Tokyo Sexwale and Jacob Zuma. Photo:

After South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, Sexwale became the Premier of Gauteng Province. He served as Minister of Human Settlements from 2009 to 2013 until President Jacob Zuma fired him during a cabinet reshuffle — Zuma’s fourth since taking office in 2009.  “I was fired,”Sexwale said, according to a Sept. 8 report. “They call it ‘reshuffle.’ President calls and says, ‘Chief I think I would like to try somebody else in this,’” Sexwale said. According to Sexwale‚ he was offered a position in the National Assembly as Member of Parliament pending a new position to be announced later. He said that he declined because he did not have time “for this kind of a thing.”

“I said to the president‚ ‘Find another person there. Let me go back to my positions in society. I got a lot to do‚ I can’t be a passenger waiting for this stuff.” There is no bad blood between them, Sexwale said.

3.Sexwale isn’t the only South African named by the SEC for bribery.

Along with former Cabinet Minister Sexwale, Cape Town multimillionaire Walter Hennig and their business partner, Mark Willcox, are identified in the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission order. Hennig is accused of being a central figure in paying bribes.

2. Sexwale was on a terror watch list and was denied US entry.

In 2002, he was refused a visa to enter the U.S. and couldn’t attend the listing of Gold Fields (he held a 15-percent stake in it) on the New York Stock Exchange. It turns out many prominent South African anti-apartheid activists including Nelson Mandela were still on a list of global terrorists. Sexwale sued the U.S. Department of State. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intervened on his behalf. They received 10-year waivers from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of Homeland Security. In April 2008 the waiver was lifted and the ANC members along with the ANC were removed from the terrorist list in the U.S. The ANC demanded an apology in 2013 after Sexwale was held at a U.S. airport because he was on a terrorist watch list.

1.He was awarded the Legion of Honor.

Sexwale has received many awards and honors including France’s Legion of Honor — the highest you can get for military and civil merit, established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. He got an honorary doctorate in technology from Nottingham Trent University, an honorary doctorate in business administration from De Montfort University, the Order of the Freedom of Havana (Cuba), the Cross of Valour (Ruby Class) from South Africa, and the Reach and Teach Leadership Award from the U.S. He has also been chancellor of the Vaal University of Technology.