Kwena Mangope at his father, Lucas Mangope's memorial service in Motswedi near Zeerust. Mangope died on January 18, aged 94. Photo: ANA
Motswedi  - Former Bophuthatswana leader Kgosi Lucas Mangope was a visionary leader, mourners heard on Wednesday.

"He could see far from our horizon...his qualities and products are visible," said Josias Hlongwa, narrating how Mangope loved education.

He was speaking at Mangope's memorial service in Motswedi near Zeerust.

Mangope died on January 18, aged 94.

Hlongwa said the defunct homeland leader commissioned a study before the middle school system was implemented in the former homeland.

"He believed in research, he commissioned professors to study the model. The middle school model was researched it was not thumb-sucked," he said to a chorus of applause from the audience.

He said the middle school concept was necessary as it meant a pupil would go through three examinations before tertiary education.

During her visit to schools in Madibeng municipality on January 17, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga pointed out that the North West (formerly Bophuthatswana homeland) province must consider phasing out middle schools as it was not fitting well in the education system.

Hlongwa said through Mangope's vision, Manpower centres were built and the centre produced job creators, not job seekers.

Another speaker, Sidney Mothoagae, said Mangope created Agrico, an organisation aimed at promoting agriculture in Bophuthatswana.

Mangope was the founder of the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP). In 2011 he was fired from the party for allegedly making unilateral decisions and expelling senior party members.

He challenged his expulsion in court, which only restored his party membership and not his leadership.

Mangope became president of Bophuthatswana in 1977, one of many independent black homelands which only apartheid South Africa recognised. He had been accused of using police brutality to suppress protest.

In 1988, he was reinstated by the apartheid government following a failed coup led by Rocky Malebana-Metsing, leader of the People Progressive Party.

In 1993, in the build up to the first non-racial elections in South Africa in 1994, Mangope made it clear that Bophuthatswana would remain independent of the new and integrated South Africa and that he would not allow the upcoming elections to take place in "his country".

Mangope was removed from office by South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and Transitional Executive Council member Mac Maharaj in March, 1994.

Members of the UCDP in their party regalia, joined hundreds of mourners to pay their respects to their former leader.

Mangope would be buried in Motswedi on Saturday. 

African News Agency/ANA