Richard Maponya police salute

Photo: Twitter screenshot

Watch: Bumbling cops fluff their lines at Richard Maponya funeral

Four police officers had an afternoon to forget at the Richard Maponya funeral service on Tuesday. Their ‘choreography’ went badly wrong.

Richard Maponya police salute

Photo: Twitter screenshot

God, this is good. Even on a solemn occasion such as this, you can’t help but laugh. And if we know the gentle giant Richard Maponya, even he would have giggled at this.

RIP Richard Maponya: Send-off goes wrong

Social media has been left in stitches by footage of four police guards who don’t know their left from their right. They were attending the funeral and memorial service held for a man who revolutionised Soweto. Maponya, aged 99, passed away peacefully last week on 6 January. He helped create jobs and business opportunities for black citizens during the cruel regime of apartheid.

But, even with his unparalleled leadership skills, we doubt even the great Richard Maponya could have whipped this lot into shape. Whether it was their first day back after Christmas, or they went a little overboard on the “Dutch courage”, these four made instant memes of themselves at the Westpark Cemetery:

Watch: Police officers get salute to Richard Maponya all wrong

President Ramaphosa pays tribute to “a devoted patriot”

Whoever decided to let Mabena do the choreography has some explaining to do. The hilarious moment was broadcast live on SABC’s coverage, and was met by a stony silence from both the presenters and those conducting the proceedings. In the end, the group abandoned whatever salute they had planned.

Amid the light relief, President Cyril Ramaphosa was in attendance. He delivered a speech which commemorated the life and achievements of Maponya. He praised his fellow businessman for breaking “the chains of economic exclusion”, hailing the struggle icon as “one of SA’s finest sons”:

“Richard Maponya was the most devoted of patriots. He loved his country and her people. He was [a] soldier, not of the battlefield, but at the frontline of the struggle for the economic emancipation of his people – a struggle that endures to this day. I convey my deepest condolences to the family

“He was a fighter for the liberation of black South Africans from the shackles of poverty, from the manacles of marginalisation and from the chains of economic exclusion. Those who knew him will remember him for being forthright and a straight talker. South Africa has lost one of its finest sons.

Cyril Ramaphosa