Soweto is poorer without you ntate Maponya! RIP.

The doyen of properties and an entrepreneur died this morning following a short illness, according to his family.

At the time of publishing it was unclear on the condition of his passing-away.

Dr Maponya is celebrated for building the first black owned retail shop in Soweto- Maponya Mall, as well as other properties and car dealerships.

Born Richard John Pelwana Maponya, in Limpopo, is best known for building a business empire despite the restrictions of apartheid and his determination to see the Soweto township develop economically.

Messages of condolences continue to stream-in from local and abroad.

President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa labelled him a giant.

Former Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale says Maponya worked hand-in-hand with other business people in the area.

“He stayed on the parcel of land (Maponya Mall) for 20 years looking for money until he got help and then he built the biggest retail space in Soweto.

This is the guy who came up with the phrase ‘riding the tiger of apartheid’. He came up with the ideological foundations of what today we call the broad-based black economic empowerment.

“He was an amazing visionary,” says Mohale.

Ntate Maponya was close to then Pres utata Dr Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, the Sisulus and other struggle icons of SA.

He was 99 at the time of his passing.

I met the legendary ‘Son of the Soil’ at one of the functions hosted by his family and struck me as a resolute but down to earth character- typical of a ‘Grandfather of Soweto’.

Yes, we shall miss that signature smile, ntate.

Robala ka kgotso!

The family has asked for privacy at this time of bereavement.

Details for funeral and memorial service were not revealed at time of publishing.

Image (That signature smile is no more. Dr Richard Maponya has been revered by many, including lesser mortals).

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