Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter

Johannesburg - The funeral of National Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile is under way in Emmarentia, Johannesburg. 

A coffin with the legendary poet's body was ushered into the funeral venue a short while ago. 

Members of his family walked in while the coffin was led into the venue. Kgositsile is being sent off in an official funeral and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is also attending the funeral.

Popularly known as Bra Willie, Kgositsile died at the age of 79 at Johannesburg’s Milpark Hospital. He died following a short illness.

"The passing of Professor Kgositsile has shaken all of us," said Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told thousands gathered for the sendoff. Radebe is the MC for the funeral.

 "We'd like to say to the Kgositsile family you are not alone. South Africa mourns with you," Radebe said. He added that Kgositsile was not dead and added that he lives on through his poetry. Kgositsile was also an academic and political activist. 

Mourners have arrived to pay their last respects to late Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile #RIPKgositsile pic.twitter.com/BifbHUmtPw

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe also in attendance at the funeral #RIPKgositsile pic.twitter.com/6dCkPTmrD3

Programme for the special official funeral service for Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile #RIPKgositsile pic.twitter.com/M7sxJMbBVq

Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula #RIPKgositsile pic.twitter.com/fGSHXYyNLw

Draped in the South African flag#RIPKgositsile pic.twitter.com/s88UoJLAMK

Obituary of Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile #RIPKgositsile pic.twitter.com/nUjkWw8WUJ

From 1962 to 1975, he lived in exile in the United States, where he gained success and quickly became a household name. 

'My Name is Afrika', which he published in 1971, made him one of Africa's leading poets. 

His famous work  include : If I Could Sing, The Present is a Dangerous Place to Live, A Capsule Course in Black Poetry Writing – with Brooks, Madhubuti & Randall, For Melba and Spirits Unchained. 

Kgositsile was named South Africa’s first National Poet Laureate in 1996. He later went on to receive the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to literature.

Kgositsile is survived by his wife, Baby Dorcas Kgositsile, seven children and a number of grandchildren.

The Star