Gauteng Premier David Makhura congratulates Ndumiso Madlala during the launch of the latter’s Eyethu Beverages in Centurion yesterday.
 Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Numiso Madlala, the award-winning brewer who founded the acclaimed Soweto Gold beer, decided against buying himself a celebratory Ferrari in order to start the first majority black-owned cider business in South Africa.

Turning to Mike Veysie, the chief executive of Eyethu Beverages, the company which Madlala co-founded and chairs, the chairperson joked: “Mike, as our chief executive, I think you need to make sure that I still get to buy my Ferrari.”

Madlala and Veysie are co-founders of Eyethu.

Madlala was speaking yesterday in Centurion, Tshwane, after Eyethu successfully acquired a 20-year-old cider-making plant, which was previously owned by Diageo SA - makers of renowned spirits such as Johnny Walker whiskeys and Smirnoff Vodka.

At the Centurion plant, Eyethu manufactures a cider base which they sell to Heineken for the Netherlands-headquartered company to brew three flavours of its Strongbow brand.

“Here at Eyethu, we buy assets and create value by creating new brands. We have three (cider) brands which we have created and will be launching in the near future,” Madlala said.

“I proved with Soweto Gold that this market is thirsty for new brands, and that's what we plan to do here at Eyethu.

“Next door is where we are going to create jobs. We will be putting in a packaging line, and we will be able to hire and grow this business,” he said.

He has an MA degree in chemical engineering from a Dutch institution, where his thesis focused on beer filtration methods.

Madlala started Soweto Gold in 2013 and sold it to Heineken in 2017, a year after being honoured by Gauteng Premier David Makhura as the township businessperson of the year.

Madlala, 39, wanted to buy a Ferrari with some of that money, until his business partner Veysie convinced him to start a cider-making company.

Makhura, who stepped out of a provincial government lekgotla to attend the celebrations, enthused about the partnerships which Madlala entered into with multinationals such as Heineken and Diageo, saying this would improve the transformation and diversification of the local economy.

“We are looking at what the provincial government should do to nudge - and I want to use the word 'nudge' - various big players to say to them: 'We want you to grow'," Makhura said.