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Ramaphosa: Maponya was a soldier for the economic emancipation of his people

President Cyril Ramaphosa says Maponya should be remembered for the role he played in the liberation of South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and first lady Tshepo Motsepe at the funeral of the late Dr Richard Maponya on 14 January 2020. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to business giant Richard Maponya saying he was always at the frontline of the economic emancipation of his people.

Ramaphosa delivered a eulogy at Maponya's funeral service at the University of Johannesburg's campus in Soweto.

GALLERY: High-profile guests pay tribute to Richard Maponya

Maponya died last week following a short illness at the age of 99.

Ordinary Sowetans, politicians, academics and the business community came in their numbers to the campus to bid farewell to man who spent his life investing in Soweto to change the lives of others.

Maponya was known for building a multimillion rand mega shopping mall in Soweto.

Ramaphosa said that Maponya should be remembered for the role he played in the liberation of South Africa.

"Richard Pelwana Maponya was one of our country's most devoted patriots. He loved his country and he loved his people. He was a soldier, not of the battlefield but at the frontline of the struggle for economic emancipation of his people - a struggle that endures to this day."

President Ramaphosa said that during apartheid, Maponya saw business as part of the broader liberation movement.

The president said that South Africa has lost one of its finest sons.

"We heard from our sister Felicia Mabuza-Suttle and our sister Wendy Luhabe that he mentored them. And we are proud and glad that through his mentorship that he has produced very successful sisters."

Also present at the funeral service was former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader and Maponya's long-time friend, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Buthelezi left the African National Congress (ANC) in 1975 to start his party the IFP.

He said that while his former ANC comrades deserted him, Maponya was always by his side.

"Dr Maponya was a staunch member of the liberation movement, as has been said. He supported the struggle for freedom and supported me in the path I chose to pursue our liberation when I founded the Inkatha Freedom Party."

The funeral concluded at the West Park cemetery.