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South Africa mourns ‘soldier of economic emancipation’

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Thousands have turned out to bid farewell to one of South Africa’s most-celebrated businessman Richard Maponya, who died aged 99 last week.

Mourners are gathered here at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus, not far from the massive shopping mall he built.

Cyril Ramaphosa - right
Image caption: President Cyril Ramaphosa praised Maponya as a man of resilience

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy, saying the businessman’s perseverance under harsh apartheid laws was remarkable and he was an “extraordinary man of resilience”.

Quote Message: We’ve lost the most outstanding entrepreneurs. He was a soldier not on the battlefield but on the front lines of economic emancipation, a struggle that continues to this day.

Quote Message: He was truly a man who lived for others… driven by the conviction that South Africa will never be truly free unless its fruits are shared by all.”

Maponya, who trained as a teacher, ventured into business by selling garments to miners and people in rural areas in the early 1950s during the days of white-minority rule.

Politician Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former leader of Inkatha Freedom Party, also paid tribute to man who became a multi-millionaire entrepreneur.

And world-acclaimed musician Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse performed a moving tribute on saxophone.

Thabo Mbeki
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