Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|October 4, 2022|4 Minutes|In Opinion


Honesty and sweet reason in squalid times.

In these dark and dingy times when business ethics scurry through the sewers like rats,   how refreshing it is to take a lung full of fresh spring air from a billionaire company with principles.

It came as a welcome, sweet, lung full of fresh spring air from a board room on the southernmost tip of Africa. Sweet reason combined with honesty and cast-iron ethics. It shouldn’t be rare, but it is.

In this mad world where powerful, wealthy, people slip and change their principles for the same reason that you have to frequently change a baby’s nappy.

Billionaire Tomorrow is pleased that this solid ethical behavior emanates from the boardroom of a Cape Town-based company Brimstone – the story of which we have covered extensively in our columns through the story of one of its founders, the entrepreneur Fred Robertson.

Brimstone has made a fortune over the last quarter of a century by taking the money of wage earners and investing it for them. Robertson – a teacher turned insurance salesman – was a pioneer of this and spent many years visiting the humble homes of working people to persuade them to invest.

It is these early bird investors, many of whom bought into Brimstone when it listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1998, that the company is now seeking;  with its ethics in one hand and a pile of cash in the other.

They call these early investors the “lost”  shareholders, according to the Business Insider publication. When they bought shares in Brimstone all those years ago there was no legal requirement for companies to record the basic contact details of their shareholders, not even a phone number, nor an  ID number.

This is making it difficult for the investment company to find them. It is even more tricky because some of the shares were bought in the name of companies and closed corporations that have been deregistered.

“People came with cash to our offices to buy shares, “ recalls Brimstone co-founder and CEO Mustaq Brey.

Along with Robertson, Brey secured the first cheque for the business, one hot busy afternoon, signed on the back of a battered old Audi by the owner of a petrol station in Athlone in Cape Town.

Brimstone wants to pay these lost shareholders a cool R 6.4 million (about $360,000) in unclaimed dividends.

“We firmly believe it’s our moral obligation to find these people.” Says Brey.

A sentence as sweet and welcome as gentle dawn breaking through a night of storms.

How many companies keep your deposits and other money owed to you unless you fight them every inch of the way? Plenty.

In these difficult times, long live Brimstone and all other companies who put ethics and the people who put down their hard-earned cash- first.