Richard Maponya came from a very humble background, growing up on a farm in Limpopo and herding cattle as a youngster. Though he was born in 1920, his ID indicated his birth year as 1926.

This was what friend and associate 81-year-old Estelle Bester explained. As an expert on Soweto property management, Bester helped Maponya in sorting out some of his old properties, updating information and registering the title deeds. As a fluent Sotho speaker Ma Bester and Ntate Maponya never spoke English except when reviewing technical documents...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now