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SA mourns the death of Richard Maponya

In 2007, Maponya made history, opening the Maponya Mall in Soweto which holds more than 200 stores.

South African businessman Richard Maponya. Picture: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is mourning the death of business mogul Richard Maponya.

He died early on Monday morning.

Maponya had recently celebrated his 99th birthday.

The late businessman was born in Limpopo in the village of Lenyenye on 24 December 1920.

Although he was a teacher by profession, his first job was as a stock taker at a clothing retail store.

The man who became one of the country's retail giants, attempted to open a store in Soweto but was prevented from doing so by the apartheid government who refused to grant him a license.

Despite this, in the 1950's Maponya established the Dube Hygienic Dairy which employed a fleet of boys on bicycles who delivered milk to customers in Soweto without access to electricity.

He was the founding member and first president of the National African Federation Chamber of Commerce.

In 2007, Maponya made history with the opening of the Maponya Mall in Soweto, which holds more than 200 stores.

During an interview with the SABC, he spoke about his love for his work.

“For as long as the Lord has given me strength, I’m going to work until the last day when they say “lala khahle.”

Maponya is a recipient of the National Order of the Baobab, the highest honour in South Africa, as well as honorary doctorates from the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Johannesburg.

PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA SENDS CONDOLENCES

President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his condolences to the family of the late Richard Maponya.

Ramaphosa said that the country had lost a trailblazer and a man of extraordinary fortitude who paved the way for the racial transformation of the South African economy.

The president said that Maponya was a rare breed of entrepreneur who succeeded against all odds.

The presidency's Khusela Diko said: “The president has called on business people to emulate the examples that Dr Maponya set; tenacity, inspiration, innovation but remaining rooted in the communities we seek to serve.”

BUSINESS FRATERNITY REMEMBERS MAPONYA AS A VISIONARY

The South African business fraternity has paid tribute to Maponya, describing him as a visionary who formed the ideological foundations of the broad-based black economic empowerment.

Former Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale said that Maponya was an inspiration to many black business people.

“He gave us the interface and relations with the people’s liberation movement during apartheid. He gave us an understanding of business unity in post-apartheid South Africa.”

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)