Move over, Elon — there’s another Musk hitting the headlines.
Errol Musk, the family’s patriarch, is in the news after confirming he fathered a second secret love child with his stepdaughter, Jana Bezuidenhout, 35.
The 76-year-old is most notable for being Elon’s estranged father, with the pair famously falling out several years ago. Elon, 51, was brought to tears discussing his dad in a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, describing him as “evil” and “a terrible human being.”
But little else is known about Errol outside of his native South Africa, where he has made a name for himself as a high-powered engineer, property developer and political advocate who vehemently opposed apartheid.
Like his son, the wealthy business owner — who was once rumored to be the co-owner of a Zambian emerald mine — has also been mired in controversy.
Several decades ago, Errol allegedly shot and killed three armed intruders who broke into his Johannesburg home. By some accounts, Elon is reported to have witnessed the attack, with Errol later telling Rolling Stone that he acted in self-defense; he was never convicted of any crime.
Here is the incredible true story of Errol Musk — and the striking similarities he shares with his powerful son.
A family of innovators and adventurers
Given Elon Musk’s interest in exploration and adventure, it’s no surprise he descends from intrepid stock, and it’s Errol’s side of the family that is seemingly responsible for his innovative, envelope-pushing genes.
Errol’s grandmother was Canada’s first chiropractor, while Errol’s own mom and dad were the first two people to fly from South Africa to Australia in a single-engine airplane, according to Forbes magazine.
Errol himself has an adventurous streak and is an avid sailor and pilot. He began his career as an electromechanical engineer.
In 1970, Errol married model Maye Haldeman Musk before the pair welcomed three children: Elon, Kimbal and Tosca.
As a child, Elon had a close relationship with his father and grew up prosperous in Pretoria. Errol was elected to the Pretoria City Council in 1972 and was an outspoken advocate for abolishing apartheid. His children were reportedly influenced by his liberal political views.
When Errol and Maye divorced in 1979, a then-8-year-old Elon chose to live with his dad.
According to Ashlee Vance’s 2017 biography of the Tesla founder, “The Musk family owned one of the biggest houses in Pretoria thanks to the success of Errol’s engineering business,” which included “large projects such as office buildings, retail complexes, residential subdivisions, and an air force base.”
The Daily Mail has reported that Errol was a multimillionaire before the age of 30.
Meanwhile, Elon has himself admitted that his father has a very high IQ and is “brilliant at engineering.” In 2017, he also told Rolling Stone that Errol was “the youngest person to get a professional engineer’s qualification in South Africa.”
“I’m naturally good at engineering — that’s because I inherited it from my father,” the world’s richest man stated. “What’s very difficult for others is easy for me. For a while, I thought things were so obvious that everyone must know this.”
However, Elon has disputed claims that he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has also dismissed rumors that his father co-owned a Zambian emerald mine, writing on Twitter in 2019: “He didn’t own an emerald mine & I worked my way through college, ending up ~$100k in student debt. I couldn’t even afford a 2nd PC at Zip2, so programmed at night & website only worked during day.”
A violent act
On an undisclosed date, Errol reportedly shot and killed three of up to a half-dozen armed intruders who broke into his Johannesburg home, according to Rolling Stone.
The patriarch confirmed the shootings to the publication in 2017, saying manslaughter charges were later dropped because he acted in self-defense.
It’s unclear how old Elon was at the time — and whether he was even present is in dispute.
However, in the recent Channel 4 documentary “Elon Musk: Superhero or Supervillain,” co-founder of SpaceX, Jim Cattrell, claimed Elon was home at the time. In an interview with Express, Cattrell recalled: “One night, they were sitting in the living room and his dad said ‘Everybody down! Get down!’”
He continued: “He grabbed some weapons, as you could see on the cameras there were some intruders that were coming over the walls, and they were also armed. There was a shooting in the living room, and I guess his father shot them dead.
“Elon was a witness to this, bullets flying around,” Cattrell further claimed. “So it was very formative for him. You could tell by the way that he told the story. He had this sense that it was definitely not a safe place to be, and he had to get the hell out.”
A falling out
At some point after the shooting, the relationship between dad Errol and son Elon soured.
“He was such a terrible human being. You have no idea. My dad will have a carefully thought-out plan of evil. He will plan evil,” Elon tearfully told Rolling Stone in 2017.
“Almost every crime you can possibly think of, he has done,” he continued. “Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done.”
Elon clarified that his father was never physically abusive toward him and that he once tried to mend the relationship by inviting his father to live with him in the United States.
However, any reconciliation was apparently short-lived.
“In my experience, there is nothing you can do,” Elon said of Errol. “Nothing, nothing. I wish. I’ve tried everything. I tried threats, rewards, intellectual arguments, emotional arguments, everything to try to change my father for the better, and he … no way, it just got worse.”
Errol subsequently told the publication in an email: “I’ve been accused of being a Gay, a Misogynist, a Paedophile, a Traitor, a Rat, a S–t (quite often), a Bastard (by many women whose attentions I did not return) and much more. My own (wonderful) mother told me I am ‘ruthless’ and should learn to be more ‘humane.’ But I love my children and would readily do whatever for them.”
Errol and Elon’s feud has reportedly been exacerbated by the patriarch’s eyebrow-raising relationships.
After his divorce from Elon’s mother, Errol went on to wed Heide Bezuidenhout, a young widow who already had two children, including 4-year-old Jana Bezuidenhout.
Errol and Heide had two children of their own, but he also helped raise Jana. Errol and Heide eventually divorced after an 18-year marriage.
In 2017, family members were left stunned when Jana became pregnant with Errol’s baby. Elon was said to be particularly furious that his father had impregnated his stepsister.
Errol’s other children we also “shocked” and uncomfortable about the surprise pregnancy.
“They still don’t like it,” Errol admitted in a new interview with the Sun: “They still feel a bit creepy about it because she’s their sister. Their half-sister.”
The child, a boy named Elliot Rush, is now 5 years old. On Wednesday, Errol confirmed that he and Jana had welcomed a second child, a daughter who is now 3.
The 76-year-old hasn’t ruled out having more children, saying: “The only thing we are on Earth for is to reproduce.”
In that way, Errol might be like estranged Elon after all.
The Tesla CEO has fathered 10 children. It was revealed last week that he welcomed two children with an executive at his artificial intelligence company, Neuralink, just weeks before his second child with his ex-girlfriend, Grimes, was born.