Police salute blunder at Maponya funeral ‘simply an error which is highly regrettable' - SAPS

The SA Police Service (SAPS) has described a blunder during the police drill parade at the funeral of business icon Dr Richard Maponya on Tuesday as "rather unfortunate".

"It was just simply an error which is highly regrettable," national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo told News24.

A video clip of the incident has gone viral and in it, the four officers can be seen turning in different directions after the command is made during the proceedings at West Park Cemetery. It led to backlash on social media.

Business pioneer Maponya died in the early hours of last Monday after a short illness.

He celebrated his 99th birthday on Christmas Eve.

In the eulogy on Tuesday at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto Campus, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Maponya "wanted to see others alongside him on the rostrum of success".

"Ntate Richard was always pushing back the frontiers, agitating for more to be done to support small business, and encouraging more people to take the great and daunting leap into entrepreneurship. From his earliest days, and long before it became a popular term, he demonstrated the qualities of responsible corporate citizenship.

"He did not hoard the gains he made over his decades in business, but ploughed much of it back into the communities in which he operated."

Ramaphosa said Maponya was "alive to the challenges our country, but always urged us to do more and to go the extra mile to improve the operating environment for business, especially small business".

"I personally received many a late night call from him, sharing his viewpoint on one or another pressing issue of the day. In my very last engagements with him, he urged me to do everything I can to see his greatest dream realised, to set up a youth entrepreneurship academy," Ramaphosa said.

"It is a wish I will endeavour to see fulfilled on his behalf."