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Julian Ogilvie Thompson

(Diocesan College, Rondebosch & Worcester 1953) (27 January 1934 - 11 August 2023)

We are saddened to hear that Julian Ogilvie Thompson, informally known as JOT, has passed away in Johannesburg at the age of 89.

JOT served for many years as a dedicated and valued Rhodes Trustee, and was also founding Trustee of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation from 2003 to 2020. 

“Julian is remembered as a true gentleman. He possessed a rigorous intellect which he brought to bear on the formative years of the MRF. We appreciated his seventeen years of service to the Foundation, and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family,” said Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele, Chairman of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

JOT was a South African mining executive known for the roles he played in De Beers, Minorco and Anglo American. He was a founding trustee of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, serving from 2003 until June 2020. JOT played a pivotal role in the early days. He connected founding CEO Shaun Johnson to Nicky Oppenheimer, ultimately leading to the donation of the Rhodes Building to Nelson Mandela; the building became the headquarters of the newly established MRF. The donation provided the Foundation with an operational headquarters and a significant asset. As a trustee he also contributed significantly to the governance of the Foundation in its early years through his involvement in the Investment Committee, the Finance/Audit/Risk Committee and the Executive Committee.

JOT was born in Cape Town and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He proceeded to have an extraordinary career, starting out as Harry Oppenheimer’s assistant at De Beers in 1957 and ultimately becoming chairman of Anglo American. JOT was an important link between the MRF and the mining companies that grew out of Rhodes’ original company De Beers; he was also familiar with the world of the Rhodes Trust, the MRF’s founding partner organisation.