Former president Nelson Mandela has been named as the greatest South African of all time.

His name topped a list of the top 100 South Africans aired on a special SABC-TV3 programme on Sunday night.

The list included many anti-apartheid political activists as well as controversial figures from the past and present - such as white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche, Paul Kruger and J B Hertzog - were also listed in the top 100.

The rankings were arrived at after an intensive nationwide campaign by SABC in which South Africans were asked to nominate their greatest South African of all time by phone, SMS or through the SABC3 website.

The names of more than 2 000 candidates from all walks of life were put forward.

In an unranked list of places 2 to 10 are political leader Mahatma Gandhi, heart surgeon, Prof Chris Barnard, former president FW de Klerk, activist and ANC leader Winnie Madikizela Mandela, President Thabo Mbeki, golfer Gary Player, Aids activist Xolani Nkosi Johnson, former prime minister Jan Smuts and religious leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Voters have clearly favoured recent heroes and icons in South African history. Only 32 people who made the final 100 are deceased. Politicians dominate with twenty-nine places on the list, then sportspersons with eighteen, activists with twelve, musicians and entertainers with eleven each and business people with nine.

The South African project is modelled on the acclaimed and successful BBC production Great Britons when the British public voted Sir Winston Churchill the Greatest Briton of all time.

The rest of the South African rankings were: 11 Hansie Cronje, cricket captain, 12 Charlize Theron, actress, 13 Steve Biko, political activist, 14 Shaka Zulu, great Zulu leader, 15 Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party leader, 16 Tony Leon, leader of the official opposition, 17 Brenda Fassie, pop queen, 18 Mark Shuttleworth, IT entrepreneur, 19 Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, former prime minister, 20 Chris Hani, political activist and leader.

21 Bonginkozi Zola Dlamini singer, TV presenter, 22 Patricia de Lille, politician, 23 Johnny Clegg entertainer, singer, 24 Helen Suzman, opposition MP for 36 years, 25 Eugene Terreblanche white supremacist leader, 26 Pieter Dirk Uys, actor, entertainer, 27 Paul Kruger, president of old Transvaal Republic, 28 Dr Anton Rupert, environmentalist, businessman, 29 Jonty Rhodes, SA cricket and hockey, 30 Leon Schuster, actor, comedian.

31 Oliver Tambo, founder ANC youth league, 32 Steve Hofmeyer, singer and actor, 33 Walter Sisulu, African National Congress leader and activist, 34 Cyril Ramaphosa, unionist, politician, businessman, 35 JRR Tolkien, academic, author of The Lord Of The Rings, 36 Beyers Naude, cleric, anti-apartheid activist, 37 Ernie Els, golfer, 38 Miriam Makeba, singer, 39 Patrice Motsepe, businessman, 40 Trevor Manuel, activist, Minister of Finance.

41 Albert Luthulu, political leader, Nobel Prize Winner, 42 Robert Sobukwe, founded PAC, 43 Tokyo Sexwale, businessman, politician, 44 Danny Jordaan, SA Soccer World Cup 2010, 45 Prof Fathima Meer, activist, author, 46 Ahmed Kathrada, activist, 47 Joe Slovo, SA Communist Party, 48 Natalie du Toit, disabled swimmer, 49 Jomo Sono, soccer star, coach, 50 Francois Pienaar 1995 Rugby World Cup captain.

51 John Kani, actor, 52 Penny Heyns, swimmer, 53 Jeremy Mansfield, DJ, 54 Lucas Radebe former SA soccer captain, 55 Mamphela Ramphela, author, academic, 56 Cecil John Rhodes, businessman, politician, 57 Albertina Sisulu, activist, 58 Aggrey Klaaste, editor, 59 Alan Paton, writer, 60 Harry Oppenheimer, businessman.

61 Zackie Achmat, Aids activist, 62 Doctor Khumalo, soccer star, 63 Jan van Riebeeck, Dutch leader to the Cape, 64 Bruce Fordyce, athlete, 65 Enoch Sontonga, composer and writer, 66 Zola Budd, athlete, 67 Sol Plaatjie, journalist, writer and politician, 68 Dr Danie Craven, rugby chief, 69 Allan Boesak, cleric, 70 Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, TV personality.

71 Yvonne Chaka Chaka, singer, 72 Baby Jake Matlala, boxer, 73 Kaizer Motaung, soccer administrator, founder Kaizer Chiefs, 74 Basetsana Kumalo, TV presenter, businesswoman, 75 Antjie Krog, writer, 76 Dullah Omar, activist, politician, 77 Mandoza, Pop Star, 78 Nkosazana Zuma, politician, 79 Raymond Ackermann, businessman, 80 Nadine Gordimer, writer.

81 DF Malan, prime minister, 82 Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, politician, 83 B Herzog, prime minister, 84 Hector Peterson, apartheid victim, 85 Papwa Sewgolam, golfer, 86 William Smith, educationist, 87 PW Botha, prime minister, 88 Hugh Masekela, musician, 89 Bulelani Ngcuka, National Prosecutor, 90 Jody Schekter, racing driver.

91 George Bizos, advocate, 92 Mbongeni Ngema, playwright, 93 PJ Powers, singer, 94 Mimi Coertse, soprano, 95 Mrs Pless, fossil of prehistoric man, 96 Abdulah Ibrahim, pianist and composer, 97 Govan Mbeki, activist, revolutionary, 98 Jamie Uys, film director, 99 JH Pierneef, painter, 100 Athol Fugard, playwright.