Richard Maponya 'decided to celebrate his 100th birthday with his late wife'

14 January 2020 - 12:24 By Nonkululeko Njilo
The programme for Richard Maponya's funeral service.
The programme for Richard Maponya's funeral service.
Image: Nonkululeko Njilo/TimesLIVE

Felicia Mabuza-Suttle paid a moving tribute to business mogul Richard Maponya at his funeral service on Tuesday. 

The veteran television presenter addressed thousands of mourners who gathered to attend the special funeral, category two, declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“I am not here to mourn, I am here to celebrate this man,” she said.      

Ramaphosa, who attended alongside first lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe, was expected to give a eulogy at the service, held at the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) Soweto campus. Maponya died on January 6 after a short illness. He celebrated his 99th birthday on Christmas Eve.

“Papa is happy where he is,” Mabuza-Suttle said.

She recalled how Maponya had said he wanted to be reunited with his late wife, Marina Maponya, who gave up her social worker profession to join her husband in starting up a variety of business ventures.

“Papa decided to celebrate his 100th birthday with Marina,” she said.    

Marina died of cancer in 1992.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi also commended the role Marina played in Maponya’s life. 

“Marina had no fear of hard work,” he said, describing her as a perfect match for Maponya.

Mabuza-Suttle recalled how the Maponyas opened their home to her and other young people. She said they dared not misbehave in front of Maponya, whom she described as a disciplinarian.

A representative from Maponya’s church, Reverend P Mengoai, described him as a great man of God, who made a huge contribution to the church.  

“He did not want to occupy leadership positions at church because he led enough of them in business,” Mengoai said. 

He added that whenever Maponya made a contribution towards church initiatives, he never wanted recognition.