Richard Maponya Biography, Age, Education, Politics, Death, Positions, Memberships & Mall

Richard Maponya [born Richard John Pelwana Maponya;24 December 1920 in Tzaneen,Transvaal – 6 January 2020 in Tzaneen (now Transvaal)] was a South African entrepreneur and property developer.

He was popularly known for a “David who defeated Goliath” as he played a notable role in building a thriving business empire in the face of the apartheid regime’s restrictions.

At that time, he was determined to the economic development of Soweto.

In 2007, Maponya received the award of the South African National Order the Grand Counselor of the Baobab (GCOB).

Age

Richard Maponya biography
Richard Maponya Photo

He was born in the small village of Thlabine near Lenyenye, about 20km west of Tzaneen (now known as Limpopo). Richard Maponya died at the age of 93 years.

Maponya got a job as a stock taker at a clothing manufacturer when he was 24 years old. At the same age, he taught in a school.

“I was waiting to take up a teaching post when a friend told me that a retailer in the Joburg CBD was looking for ‘an educated black man’ to look after stock on the floor,” he explains.

Early Career

He received a promotion he won for himself and also his manager, who was white. To show his appreciation, his manager sold him soiled clothing and offcuts. Maponya resold them in Soweto.

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Later, he tried starting a clothing retailing business in Soweto with his acquired capital.

The then government did not agree with his business plan and refused to permit him and license to operate.

Oliver Thambo and Nelson Mandela’s Law firm tried to intervene but it didn’t solve a thing.

Maponya and his wife Marina, Nelson Mandela’s cousin, established the Dube Hygienic Dairy.

They employed many delivery bicycle boys to deliver milk to customers in Soweto. Their targets were mainly customers with little or no electricity or refrigeration access.

By the 1970s, his business grew to many general-stores, car-dealerships, and filling stations.

Politics

Maponya is the founder and the first president of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC) in the 1960s. He also founded the African Chamber of Commerce which he is the chairman.

He was a member of the Urban Bantu Council which he joined in the ’60s. He resigned in 1977 following the resignation request from African National Congress’s (ANC) Youth Affiliates.

He became the first black person to be granted permission to select his horse racing-colors. Maponya chose the ANC colors which are Green, Gold, and Black.

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Maponya Mall

On 27 September 2007, he opened the Maponya Mall in Soweto. It is one of the largest shopping centers in South Africa. The mall has the capacity of over 200 stores and a cinema complex.

The mall is located on land he acquired in 1979, at first as a lease for 100 years.

He acquired the land following numerous attempts in the year 1994. Maponya suffered many failed finance construction attempts. 

The issue was resolved when his holding company went into a joint venture with Zenprop Property Holdings.

Positions

  • Founder & President of National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (1965 – date)
  • Proprietor at Maponya’s Supply Stores (1952 – date)
  • Director at Maponya’s SuperQuick Auto Service Centre Soweto
  • Director at Maponya’s Motors Property Holdings (Pty) Ltd
  • Owner of Dube Hygenic Dairy
  • Director at Maponya’s Business Service
  • Director at Afro Shopping
  • Director at Construction Enterprises (Pty) Ltd t/a Maponya’s Discount Supermarket
  • Director at Embassy Security Guards (Pty) Ltd
  • Director at Maponya’s Bottle Store (Pty) Ltd Dube, Soweto
  • Director at Maponya’s Fast Foods (Pty) Ltd
  • Chair at Trade & Transport Committee of Council
  • Director at Maponya’s Funeral Parlour (Pty) Ltd
  • Director at Afrilink
  • Director at Maponya’s Naledi Beerhall (Pty) Ltd
  • Owner of Race Horses
  • Director at Maponya’s Orlando Restaurant (Pty) Ltd
  • Chair at Johannesburg African Chamber of Commerce
  • Director at Maponya’s Rent-a-Car (Pty) Ltd
  • Director at Maponya’s Motors (Pty) Ltd t/a Soweto BMW
  • Director at Maponya’s Horse Racing Stables
  • Shareholder at Kilimanjaro Holdings (Pty) Ltd (investment coy)
  • Director at Maponya’s Stud Farms
  • Founder & former Chair at NAFCOC (1965)
  • Board Member at AFRIMAT LTD
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Education

He holds a Diploma in Teaching at the College of Kagiso Teachers Training.

Memberships

  • Baragwanath Hospital – Trustee
  • Black Proprietors Garage Owners’ Assoc – President
  • SA Foundation – Trustee
  • Urban Foundation – Trustee
  • Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund – Founder & Trustee

Community

  • Urban Bantu Council – Member, 1965 – present
  • Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund – Founder & Trustee

Death

Maponya died in the early hours of Monday, 6 January 2020, the morning following a short illness. The man dubbed as the father of black retail in South Africa developed the over R400 million Maponya Mall in Soweto.

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