Picture: Screenshot

Cape Town - Twitter had a field day after footage emerged showing police guards not knowing their left from their right.

The salute that went horribly wrong took place at the funeral and memorial service of business leader Richard Maponya at Westpark Cemetry. The faux pas was shown during a live broadcast of the funeral on SABC.

President Cyril Ramaphosa honoured Maponya with a Special Official Funeral Category 2.  Special Official Funeral Category 2 has elements of police ceremonial honours and Maponya's remains will not lie-in-state.

Maponya died in Johannesburg on January 6 a few days after celebrating his 99th birthday. During his career, which spanned over 50 years, he created many job opportunities for black citizens during the apartheid regime.

Ramaphosa also delivered Maponya's eulogy. The president described him as a man of "extraordinary resilience" who "persevered until he reached the pinnacle of success".

"And yet he remained humble, magnanimous and generous. South Africa indeed has lost one of her finest sons." 

Ramaphosa added that Maponya was driven by the conviction that South Africa would never be truly free until the fruits of prosperity were shared by all its people, saying the entrpreneur had stood for self-upliftment and inspired a new generation of business people. 

Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe were also in attendance, along with other dignitaries and politicians. 

South African tweeps saw the humour in it, while others feared that South Africa would become the "laughing stock of the world".

IOL