Patrice Motsepe. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - Billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe announced on Wednesday that his family will contribute at least half the money generated by their assets to charity.

“We want to build a track record where ordinary South Africans can really feel that they are making a difference,” Motsepe said in Johannesburg.

“Let me emphasise that the challenges are huge.... It (the money donated) would not significantly deal with the challenges that face our country.”

Motsepe said it was important for those who were successful to help the less fortunate.

“We are not going to allow you to suffer alone,” said Motsepe, who is the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals.

“Your problems and your sufferings are not yours alone... We have to be guided by the needs of our country.”

The funds would be given to the Motsepe Foundation, which would distribute it to various charities to benefit South Africans, Africans and others around the world.

Motsepe is ranked the fourth richest man in South Africa and the sixth richest in Africa, according to Forbes.

Forbes calculates his net worth at US2.65 billion (R29.93 billion).

Asked at a media gathering how much would be donated, Motsepe said it was a “reasonable target”.

“I think it would be inappropriate to give a number.”

He and his wife Precious had decided some time ago to donate the money.

They intended to, and were duty-bound, to ensure the giving would happen in a way that protected the interests and retained the confidence of their shareholders and investors.

Precious Motsepe told reporters an advisory council would be appointed to identify charities the foundation would get involved with.

“We will broadly focus on education, health, church groups, and rural communities,” she said.

Motsepe said his family had decided to join the Giving Pledge, which was initiated by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and foundation created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

The pledge encourages wealthy families across the world to give at least half of their wealth to charity.

“Someone in my position will have to send a message that we will help world-wide, because it is significantly more beneficial for us to be able to encourage the others who have got much, much more money.”

He hoped his family's contribution would inspire more people to donate money to help the less fortunate.

“We want young South Africans, black and white, to get excited and want it to become cool to give.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was present at the announcement. Motsepe said education remained one of the best investments in any country. - Sapa