Zeerust - Former homeland leader Lucas Manyane Mangope was given a funeral befitting a Chief of the Bahurutse clan on Saturday morning.
Even his former rivals, the ANC in the North West provincial government saw it necessary, due to his contribution in the infrastructure development in that province, to give him a provincial state funeral.
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo told thousands of mourners that the decision to honour Chief Mangope with a provincial state funeral was part of a reconciliation process set in motion by former president Nelson Mandela.
In his address, Mahumapelo acknowledged the infrastructure developments made possible by Mangope while still homeland leader. He said Mangope also played an important role while a member of the North West provincial legislature as leader of the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) after 1994.
"He played a role in South Africa. We learnt a lot from him," Mahumapelo said.
Huge marquees were erected near the Royal House to accommodate thousands who hailed from various parts of the country including the neighbouring countries such as Botswana and Namibia.
Mangope died at the Lehurutshe Hospital outside Zeerust. He gave his last breath in the presence of close family members including his wife Violet on January 18. He was aged 94.
Various political leaders in the country such including Rev Kenneth Meshoe of ACDP, Popo Molefe the first North West Premier, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota attended the solemn event. There were also members of the EFF in attendance.
Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke also took some time off to come and pay tribute to Mangope. The former Robben Islander and former leader of the PAC said: "I am here to pay respect to Chief Lucas Manyane Mangope".
The National House of Traditional leaders were also present to witness the final moments of Mangope. He was leader of Bophuthatswane homeland since 1977 until 1994.
Even ordinary mourners showed their admiration for Mangope who was toppled in 1994 after resisting to participate in the Codesa negotiations which ushered the first democratic elections in South Africa. Later, however, Mangope, agreed to participate through party in the elections and secure few seats in parliament and in the North West legislature.
He was laid to rest the Royal House family cemetery in Motswedi outside Zeerust.