Richard Maponya Biography – Profile

The living legend, Mr Richard Maponya, full names: Richard John Pelwana Maponya was born on the 24th December 1926 in Tzaneen in what was at the time known as Transvaal. Not only is he a South African entrepreneur and property developer, but also, he is best known for a “David” who won a fight against “Goliath”, as he managed to build a thriving business empire despite the apartheid regime’s restrictions. His determination to see the Soweto township develop economically was phenomenal at the time.

Mr Maponya was awarded the South African National Order, the Grand Counselor of the Baobab (GCOB), in April 2007.

At a glance

  • Born: 24th December 1926 – Tzaneen, Transvaal – South Africa
  • Source of wealth: Property Development
  • Position: Chief Executive Officer of Maponya Group
  • Contact details: (011) 880-5170
Richard Maponya South African entrepreneur & Property Developer, Maponya Mall Owner

Richard Maponya

Early career

Richard Maponya was born at Thlabine, a small village near Lenyenye – about 20km west of Tzaneen in what we now know as Limpopo (previously part of the Transvaal).

At the age of 24, he took a job as a stock taker at a clothing manufacturer whilst he was a teacher at the same time. “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. Subsequently, he won a promotion for both himself and his white manager. His manager, in gratitude, sold him soiled clothing and offcuts, which he resold in Soweto.

He tried opening a clothing retailer in Soweto with the capital he acquired. However, his attempts were blocked by the then govenment who refused to grant him permission and licencing to operate even with Oliver Thambo and Nelson Mandela‘s Law firm intervention.

The strength of apartheid and discrimination notwithstanding, Richard Maponya established with his wife Marina(Nelson Mandela’s cousin) the Dube Hygienic Dairy. They had employed a fleet of bicycle boys delivering milk to Sowetan customers who had no electricity or refrigeration access. His business had grown to a number general-stores, car-dealerships, and filling stations by the 1970s.

Political activity

Richard Maponya founded  and became a member and the first president of the National African Federated Chamber of Commece(NAFCOC) in the 1960s, and likewise, the founder and chairman of the African Chamber of Commerce.

He was also a member of the Urban Bantu Council in the ’60s and ’70s. His resignation in 1977 was soon after African National Congress’s (ANC) Youth Affiliates had asked him to resign, and shortly before their council offices were burnt down.

Richard Maponya became the first black person to be allowed to choose his own horse-racing colors, and astoundingly, he chose the ANC colours, Green, Gold, and Black. He is admired for that move and it is considered his bravest political move.

Maponya Mall

Richard Maponya opened the Maponya Mall in Soweto on the 27th of September 2007 . It is among the largest shopping centers in the country with its capacity of over 200 stores and a cinema complex.

The mall is situated on the land that he had obtained in 1979, at first as a lease for 100 years.

At last, he obtained the land after a number of failed attempts in 1994. He had many failed finance construction attempts until his holding company got into a joint  venture with Zenprop Property Holdings.



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


  • Founder & Chair | NAFCOC
    1965 – 1965
  • Board Member | AFRIMAT LTD

Richard Maponya’s Educational History


College of Kagiso Teachers Training – Diploma in Teaching



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


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