Special official funeral to be held for entrepreneur Richard Maponya

09 January 2020 - 11:25 By Naledi Shange
Richard Maponya died on Monday morning at the age of 99. Despite his age, Maponya said he was so concerned about unemployment that he was planning to open an entrepreneurship academy.
Richard Maponya died on Monday morning at the age of 99. Despite his age, Maponya said he was so concerned about unemployment that he was planning to open an entrepreneurship academy.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared that a special official funeral, category two, will be given to business mogul Richard Maponya, who died earlier this week.

This type of funeral is for distinguished individuals and contains elements of police ceremonial honours. 

In a post by the government communication services, it was announced that Maponya would be buried on Tuesday January 14.

“The president has instructed that the national flag fly at half-mast from Friday 10 January 2020 until the evening of the burial,” GCIS said.

The entrepreneur and property developer died in the early hours of Monday morning.

He had celebrated his 99th birthday on December 24.

A family spokesperson had issued a statement, saying Maponya died after a short illness.

In November, despite his age, Maponya said he was so concerned about the low employment rate in the country that he was planning to open an academy to train the youth on how to be entrepreneurs.

“Right now I am trying to come with an institution that must train all our youngsters so that when they graduate they get trained to use their own hands and be able to get employed or get into business in their own right,” said a post on his Facebook page.

He said he was searching for financial and non-financial support to make his dream a reality. It was a lifelong goal.

Maponya was the founding president of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), which was started in 1964 to serve the interests of small businesses.

At the age of 82, he said: “We need to create jobs for our people. That is my primary objective. I have been blessed beyond measure and am able to put food on the table; I want the same for others.”

Maponya, renowned for building a business empire despite apartheid-era restrictions, was last month wished happy birthday by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said: “I urge young South Africans to research the life story of this great legend, and draw lessons from how he overcame adversity to become one of the greatest pioneers and success stories of our time.”

The business legend had trained as a teacher, before starting small grocery stores in Soweto in the early 1950s. These led to various businesses, including a butchery, liquor stores and a supermarket, car dealership and filling station.

The most visible sign of Maponya's success is his 65,000m² Maponya Mall in Soweto. In 2007, former president Nelson Mandela cut the ribbon at the opening of the landmark township development.


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