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Business icon Dr Richard Maponya has died

The owner of Maponya Mall in Soweto Richard Maponya
The owner of Maponya Mall in Soweto Richard Maponya

The well-respected businessman, renowned for building a business empire in the townships at a time when the apartheid-era government placed strict restrictions on black people, has died. 

Maponya, aged 99, died in hospital on Monday morning, according to family spokesperson Mandla Sibeko.

"It is with great sadness that the Maponya family informs you of the passing-on of Dr Richard Maponya...after a short illness. The family requests some privacy this time of grieving," said Sibeko.

The businessman recently turned 99 and received a special message from President Cyril Ramaphosa who urged young people to research the icon and learn from him.

"Let me take this opportunity to wish Ntate Richard Maponya a happy 99th birthday. 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," Ramaphosa wrote on Boxing Day.

Born 98 years ago in Tlhabini, a village outside Lenyenye in Limpopo, Maponya married Marina, a qualified social worker and the cousin of former president Nelson Mandela, in the 1950s.

After they joined forces, they became a power couple that propelled the family business into a general dealer, eatery, butchery, liquor stores and supermarket, car dealership and filling station.

For his efforts, he has scooped several awards.

In April 2015, the Durban University of Technology awarded him with an honorary doctorate.

He has scooped various awards including the Small Business Excellence Award (2007), World Enterprise Award (2008), was a recipient of the Top 100 Companies Award: Business Times (2008), Lifetime Achievement Award and a BEE Entrepreneur Award.

Last year, he became the second person to win the Lifetime Achiever Award, which is the highest accolade in the 30-year-old Entrepreneur of the Year competition.


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