Famous South African Leaders

Find out more about the greatest South African Leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Cecil Rhodes, Jacob Zuma, Desmond Tutu and Shaka.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite South African Leaders

 1 Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
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Famous As: Anti-Apartheid Activist, President of ANC and Former President of South Africa
Birthdate: July 18, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: South African
Died: December 5, 2013
Revered as the Father of the Nation by the South Africans, Nelson Mandela was a statesman who rose to become the country’s first black head of state. He reconciled a nation divided along racial lines and dismantled the legacy of apartheid.

 2 Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki
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Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: June 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: South African
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 3 Julius Malema

Julius Malema
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 3, 1981
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: South African

 4 F. W. de Klerk

F. W. de Klerk
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Famous As: Former State President of South Africa
Birthdate: March 18, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: South African
F. W. de Klerk served as the State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as the Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. He was also the National Party leader from 1989 to 1997. His government helped crush the apartheid system and established universal suffrage. 

 5 Jan Smuts

Jan Smuts
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Famous As: Botanist, Officer, Lawyer
Birthdate: May 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: South African
Died: September 11, 1950

 6 P. W. Botha

P. W. Botha
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Famous As: Former Prime Minister of South Africa
Birthdate: January 12, 1916
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: South African
Died: October 31, 2006
Better known as PW, Pieter Willem Botha had been the president and prime minister of South Africa. A law school drop-out, Botha grew up to unsuccessfully attempt a reconciliation between apartheid sympathizers and all-Black student and labor organizations. His refusal to testify before the TRC invited a fine.

 7 Oliver Tambo

Oliver Tambo
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 27, 1917
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: South African
Died: April 24, 1993
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 8 Paul Kruger

Paul Kruger
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Famous As: President of South Africa
Birthdate: October 10, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: July 14, 1904

Paul Kruger was a South African politician who served as the last State President of the South African Republic. Revered by his admirers as a tragic folk hero, Kruger was one of the most influential military and political personalities in 19th-century South Africa. His life inspired the 1941 German film Ohm Krüger, in which Kruger was played by Emil Jannings.

 9 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 27, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: South African

 10 Kgalema Motlanthe

Kgalema Motlanthe
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 19, 1949
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: South African

 11 Hendrik Verwoerd

Hendrik Verwoerd
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 8, 1901
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: South African
Died: September 6, 1966

South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd was immensely infamous for promoting racial segregation and came to be known as one of the pioneers of apartheid. He was stabbed to death in his parliament office by a Mozambican immigrant who was thought to be insane but was a racially disadvantaged man.

 12 Chris Hani

Chris Hani
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: South African
Died: April 10, 1993

 13 Eugène Ney Terre'Blanche

Eugène Ney Terre'Blanche
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Famous As: Police officer
Birthdate: January 31, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: South African
Died: April 3, 2010

 14 Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: August 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: South African

 15 Tokyo Sexwale

Tokyo Sexwale
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Famous As: Politician, Businessperson
Birthdate: March 5, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: South African

 16 Walter Sisulu

Walter Sisulu
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Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: May 18, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: South African
Died: May 5, 2003

 17 Helen Zille

Helen Zille
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Famous As: Politician, Journalist
Birthdate: March 9, 1951
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: South African

 18 Ahmed Kathrada

Ahmed Kathrada
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Famous As: Politician, Activism
Birthdate: August 21, 1929
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: South African
Died: March 28, 2017

 19 Joe Slovo

Joe Slovo
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: South African
Died: January 6, 1995

 20 Ivan Gazidis

Ivan Gazidis
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Famous As: Lawyer, Businessperson
Birthdate: September 13, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: South African

 21 Ela Gandhi

Ela Gandhi
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Famous As: politician
Birthdate: June 1, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: South African

 22 Zindzi Mandela

Zindzi Mandela
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Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: December 23, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: South African
Died: July 13, 2020

 23 Louis Botha

Louis Botha
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 27, 1862
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: August 27, 1919

 24 Baleka Mbete

Baleka Mbete
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 24, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African

 25 Marais Viljoen

Marais Viljoen
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 2, 1915
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: South African
Died: January 4, 2007

 26 Pik Botha

Pik Botha
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Famous As: Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: April 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: South African

 27 Mandla Mandela

Mandla Mandela
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: South African

 28 Ruth First

Ruth First
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Famous As: Author, Politician, University teacher, Writer, Journalist, Martyr, Political activist
Birthdate: May 4, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: South African
Died: August 17, 1982

 29 Robert Sobukwe

Robert Sobukwe
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 5, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: South African
Died: February 27, 1978

 30 Trevor Manuel

Trevor Manuel
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 31, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: South African

 31 Helen Suzman

Helen Suzman
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: South African
Died: January 1, 2009

 32 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 3, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: South African

 33 Mamphela Ramphele

Mamphela Ramphele
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 28, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: South African

 34 Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 14, 1958
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: South African

 35 Koos de la Rey

Koos de la Rey
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Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: October 22, 1847
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: September 15, 1914

 36 Andries Pretorius

Andries Pretorius
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 27, 1798
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: South African
Died: July 23, 1853

 37 Govan Mbeki

Govan Mbeki
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 9, 1910
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: South African
Died: August 30, 2001

 38 Sol Plaatje

Sol Plaatje
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Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: October 9, 1876
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: June 19, 1932

 39 Mac Jack

Mac Jack
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 8, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: South African
Died: August 12, 2020

 40 Kumi Naidoo

Kumi Naidoo
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Famous As: human rights activist
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Nationality: South African

 41 John Vorster

John Vorster
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 13, 1915
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: South African
Died: September 10, 1983

 42 Magnus Malan

Magnus Malan
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Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: January 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: South African
Died: July 18, 2011

 43 Christiaan de Wet

Christiaan de Wet
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: October 7, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: February 3, 1922

 44 Navi Pillay

Navi Pillay
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Famous As: Judge, Lawyer
Birthdate: September 23, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: South African

 45 John Langalibalele Dube

John Langalibalele Dube
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Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: February 22, 1871
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: South African
Died: February 11, 1946

 46 Manto Tshabalala-Msimang

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 9, 1940
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: December 16, 2009

 47 Khama III

Khama III
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Famous As: Tribal Chief
Birthdate: 1837 AD
Nationality: South African
Died: February 21, 1923

 48 D. F. Malan

D. F. Malan
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 22, 1874
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: South African
Died: February 7, 1959

 49 Piet Cronjé

Piet Cronjé
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Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: October 4, 1836
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: South African
Died: February 4, 1911

 50 Marthinus Wessel Pretorius

Marthinus Wessel Pretorius
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Famous As: President
Birthdate: September 17, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: South African
Died: May 19, 1901