In the end, it was no contest. Markus Jooste’s Shakespearean fall from grace — from the top echelons of Stellenbosch royalty during his stint as CEO of Steinhoff, to pariah in the coastal town of Hermanus — made him a shoo-in for the FM’s newsmaker of the year. It was no small feat: in 2018 the headlines were dominated by the ousting of SA’s president, Jacob Zuma, and by US leader Donald Trump sparking a global trade war. But it is the fallout from Jooste’s overnight "resignation with immediate effect" on December 5 2017, and Steinhoff’s simultaneous admission of "accounting irregularities", that will haunt SA for years to come. This year, there have been almost weekly revelations of how Jooste masterminded secret "related-party deals" that enriched him, as well as revelations of how Steinhoff’s own books were cooked. It has sparked widespread outrage.

In one of the last interviews he gave before quitting in 2017, Jooste famously dismissed the German investigation into him and...

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