Johannesburg – The late Dr Richard Maponya believed that respecting your elders would give you a long life, his grandchildren said during his funeral at Imbizo Hall at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus.
His granddaughter Naledi Sibeko told mourners that Maponya always believed that he was blessed with a long life because he respected and honoured his elders, which were values he also instilled in his children and grandchildren.
She said Christmas Day in their family was always a highlight as the revered businessman would dress up as Santa.
She said with Maponya there was no room for mistakes.
“Hard work was the name of the game,” Sibeko said.
She also reminisced about her grandfather having a sweet tooth. “He loved chocolates,” she said.
Earlier Dr Sam Motsuenyane, who first met Maponya in 1954, said he didn’t expect his friend to die before him. “This is because he still looked healthy and strong,” Motsuenyane said.
“Our country has lost one of the leading businessmen. He acquired most of his interest and passion from a desire to learn and his need to become a noteworthy person in the world of business,” he said.
“Papa is happy where he is,” Mabuza-Suttle said.
She also shared anecdotes about her relationship with the family.
“My husband and I used to call Papa for his birthday and sing for him. And he would jokingly say that we need singing lessons because we can’t sing,” said Mabuza-Suttle.
She said that growing up next to the Maponyas, she grasped the concept of "go big or go home".
The pioneering Soweto businessman died last week at the age of 99.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy at the funeral service.