John Charles Molteno Jr.


John Charles Molteno Jr. was born in Beaufort West on the 4 March 1860 he was the son of the Cape’s first Prime Minister also John Charles Molteno ( Sir). From an early age, he had been his father’s secretary and he assisted in managing the family’s businesses and managed their enormous Karoo farms. He and his brothers established an export business that undertook Southern Africa’s first successful fruit export to Europe. Their enterprise dominated the industry for many years

 He became a member of parliament in  1889. Molteno was a prominent anti-imperialist. He denounced the British policies which led to the Boer War and was a supporter of civil rights for Black Africans. He recognised the need for them to be involved in South Africa’s political landscape. He was known to be outspoken in support of Black political empowerment.

Another area where he was focused was the welfare of agricultural communities. He was considered to be an expert on rural development.

He was initially a friend and business associate of Cecil John Rhodes But they had a public disagreement where he broke ties because of Rhodes’ imperialist and discriminatory legislation against the black African people and his views about the Boer Republics.

John Molteno was a supporter of John X Merriman’s party that stood for the extension, across southern Africa, of equal political rights for Black Africans. However, he could not count on the support of a large section of the white population to support black suffrage

His constituency was Jansenville in the Karoo and he spent a lot of time and energy trying to politically mobilise the local Thembu people. Early on he recognised that Black Africans needed to play a role in South Africa’s future and worked to lay the foundation for a transition. He was a  close friend and political ally of the activist John Tengo Jabavu. He suggested that Jabavu should stand for election to the Cape Parliament.

He was a tall athletic man who enjoyed the outdoors. However, he died suddenly in 1924, at the age of 64, he was survived by his American-born wife Lucy Mitchell, and his five children.