Bay businessman Vantyi dies after lengthy illness

Richmond Vantyi
Richmond Vantyi
Image: Supplied

Port Elizabeth businessman and pioneer in the funeral industry, Richmond Vantyi, fought fiercely for the participation of black business in the Nelson Mandela Bay economy.

This is how the veteran, who died on Thursday after battling a lengthy illness, will be remembered, Nafcoc said in a tribute on Friday.

Vantyi, who was fondly known as “Mjiva” or “Oom Rich”, was 85 years old.

Founder of the Vantyi and Vantyi funeral parlour in Zwide in 1984, he was a well-known business figure in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.

His son, Mhlangovuyo Vantyi, said he hoped his father would be remembered as the humanitarian he was.

“He used to help out at churches, in my community,” he said.

“Children would rely on him for school uniforms and books that they needed.

“I hope people will remember that, how he helped the impoverished people of Port Elizabeth.”

Mhlangovuyo said most importantly he would remember his father for the teachings that had helped him be the father he was today.

“No-one can ever teach me about life the way that my dad taught me,” he said.

Nafcoc in Nelson Mandela Bay said the business community was deeply saddened by his passing.

“Mr Vantyi demonstrated leadership excellence during his era at Nafcoc and the organisation benefited immensely from his activism,” it said.

“During the apartheid years when black businesspeople were not allowed to even own property, Mr Vantyi led the revolution in getting black businesspeople to own their properties.

“He fought fiercely for the participation of black business in the economy of our region through the structures of Nafcoc.

“When Nafcoc in the region faced challenges in 2014, he played a crucial role in establishing its stability in the region.

“He was a well of wisdom that leaders of Nafcoc often drank from. He pioneered a leading funeral home in Nelson Mandela Bay.”.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape described Vantyi as a committed member of the ANC who was “a towering figure — playing a formative role in driving Black Economic Empowerment (BEE)”.

“When the racist Pretoria regime was maiming and killing political activists and comrades in the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage townships, Tatu Vantyi deployed his resources to help the families of those who were killed by the security forces.

“He worked closely with the Burial Committee established by the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Port Elizabeth to provide support to the bereaved families,” the ANC said in a statement.

“As an executive member of Nafcoc for years, he helped to build the organisation which seeks to transform the economy of the metro and the rest of the country.

“Tatu Vantyi was an accomplished entrepreneur, funeral undertaker and business leader who played a critical role in the pursuit of BEE and the struggle for the deracialisation of the ownership and control of the South African economy.

“He contributed in the retail and services sector of the economy and later diversified and participated in the fishing industry, currently known as the ocean economy.

“He was an orator who was not shy to voice his opinions on issues affecting our country.

“Oom Rich Vantyi was a disciplinarian who understood that building a business does not require quick-fix solutions. It requires discipline, dedication and commitment to the cause, and most importantly humility and ethical leadership,” the ANC said.

“With the passing of Tatu Vantyi, we have lost a pioneer and committed activist who will be remembered for paving the way for countless number of aspirant black businesspeople and radically transforming the heavily racialised business landscape in our new democracy.”

Vantyi was a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa.

He is survived by four children and 10 grandchildren.