From A Prisoner To A Billionaire – How Xolane Ndhlovu Turned Adversity To Success

Xolane Ndhlovu is a South African born billionaire and the chairman of DafriGroup PLC, a multi-national public company with subsidiaries in South Africa, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Nigeria, England and Wales.

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Xolane Ndhlovu

The company owns household names such as DafriBank Digital, DafriXchange, DafriTechnologies, DafriHoldings UK, AfriGo Mall, UMEH Group, First Standard Bank, OMAHA Hotels, ePay, and the Digital Bank of Africa(DBA), the first crypto coin from Africa to achieve a $2.8 billion market capitalization.

He’s dubbed the richest crypto investor in the African continent, rumoured to be one of the fewest Africans who picked up loads of BNB back in 2017.

His personal net worth is estimated to be around R6 billion.

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Xolane Ndhlovu was born on the 12th of March 1985, to a South African mother and a Nigerian father in the dusty streets of Burgersfort, Mpumalanga.

Like most black South Africans, he’s had his fair share of life’s hardships, including working as a dishwasher at a young age of 17.

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Master Ziggy

When he was 22, he achieved fame as Master Ziggy, a sought-after DJ, at the peak of his career, he had songs that were hits on radio & TV stations across South Africa and Namibia.

Unfortunately, the success went to his head, and he got mixed up with the life of gangsters, acquiring fearsome notoriety that eventually led to his downfall.

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He was a leader of a vicious gang that protected drug lords and earned a fee from those particular services.

Xolane was never considered a criminal, because he never preyed on innocent people. His line of gang dealings were mainly after major drug lords, more especially the ones who paid police for protection to keep their drug business rolling.

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There were 3 separate gang related shootings in Benoni, and these shootings involved rivalry gangs.

The first incident left 3 gang members dead. The second incident happened two weeks after the first one, and left 4 gang members dead.

During this time, no arrests were made, until the third incident where the younger brother of the boss of the rivalry gang survived the third shooting. This new development led to the arrest of Ziggy, who was implicated by the victim.

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During trial, nasty rumours emerged that he had organized with his gang members to have the Judge presiding over his case assassinated. The rumor was picked up by the Hawks, SAPS’ investigative unit which targets organized crime – this prompted the shutdown of Benoni Magistrate court.

Throughout his trial, he was placed under TRT, a heavily armed police unit launched in 2009 to combat hardened criminals.

Initially he was charged with 7 counts of murders, but due to the police’s inability to produce sufficient evidence linking the 3 separate incidents, he was only convicted of attempted murder, possession of police bullet proof, possession of semi-automatic weapon, and pointing of firearm.

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Paradigm Shift

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While incarcerated, he got a turn around moment when he decided to read Richard Branson’s biography, Losing My Virginity – this book drastically changed his mindset.

Right from inside the cells, he amended his old ways by changing his lifestyle, and cutting ties to the gang and subsequently devoted his jail time to reading about entrepreneurship.

He decided to upgrade his outlook towards life and make a determined effort to pursue new goals.

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How He Became Wealthy

UMEH Group

UMEH Group

Thanks to South Africa’s rehabilitation systems that legally enable well behaved prisoners access to laptops & other gadgets, Xolane was able to launch UMEH Group while behind bars.

He started investing in start-up tech companies, and historically became the first person to legally make a million dollar while incarcerated.

UMEH went on to subsequently develop multiple subsidiaries in the fields of blockchain, media, finance, real estate, investment and consulting.

Today, the conglomerate shelters 18 companies including the likes of UMEH Capital, UMEH Logistics, UMEH Properties, Royal IVY®, and many others with total cumulative capital commitments amounting to over R500 million.

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DafriGroup PLC

DafriGroup PLC

In February 2020, Master Ziggy founded another company, DafriGroup PLC.

The company has a wide range of interest in multiple industries as evidenced by its fast growing list of subsidiaries including Dafri Bank, DafriAir, DafriTechnologies, DafriExchange and Dafri Estate among others serving millions of customers in Africa and on a global scale.

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UMEH x DafriGroup PLC Merger

UMEH Group x DafriGroup PLC

In 2021, UMEH merged with DafriGroup PLC, and Ndhlovu became the chairman of the board.

According to Xolane, the merger allows the company to expand its footprint into other African countries, as it aligns with its commitment to introducing groundbreaking approaches into various sectors of the communities it serve.

Some of the subsidiaries of DafriGroup PLC

Under his stewardship, DafriGroup’s investment size has ranged from R20 million to over R460 million in equity capital.

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UMEH Group Educational Fund

In 2019, Xolane established a $10 million UMEH Group Educational Fund that focused on needy students in African countries including South Africa, Namibia and Nigeria.

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South African Entrepreneurship Centre For Ex-Offenders(SAECEO)


In April 2019, Xolane founded SAECEO, the first private entrepreneurial rehabilitation centre for former prisoners in SA.

SAECEO provides customized entrepreneurship, technology, and business training to former inmates. The centre focuses particularly on technology-related ventures, targeting at fulfilling new markets that continue to arise online. The centre also provides courses in coding and programming.

The main aim of SAECEO is to allow former offenders to use their potentials to systematically become integrated into the economy.

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Ziggy Foundation
He launched Ziggy’s Foundation with the aim of promoting education and eradicating poverty throughout Africa.

Through the foundation, he initiated the #FundKidsLikeSuccess campaign, a $10 million international campaign that will help kids throughout Africa have access to education.

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When life throws lemons

It is generally said that when life throws you a lemon, you should turn around and make a lemonade.

Well, Xolane Ndhlovu made it seem like it is the easiest thing to do – he’s a case study of how to turn around life for the better.

“Break your vision down into manageable chunks and lay them out on your roadmap in your business plan. Set monthly and quarterly objectives and build in regular review dates to assess and revise your targets. If you are optimistic yet realistic, you will see your progress.”

Xolane Ndhlovu’s advice towards aspiring entrepreneurs


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