Former Bophuthatswana leader Lucas Mangope’s memorial service underway in Motswedi

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MOTSWEDI, January 24 – Mourners filled up a community hall in Motswedi near Zeerust in the North West province, ahead of the memorial service of former Bophuthatswana leader Kgosi Lucas Mangope on Wednesday.

The Motswedi High School choir and bass band sang hymns before the formal programme started.

The hall was packed to capacity and a tent was erected outside to accommodate the overflow of people.

Mangope was the chief of the Bahurutshe Boo-Manyane tribe in Motswedi, Lehurutshe near Zeerust. He died on January 18 in Motswedi, aged 94.

He was the founder of the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP), but in 2011 was fired from the party for allegedly making unilateral decisions and expelling senior party members.

He challenged his expulsion in the courts, and was reinstated as a party member, but not as the leader.

He became president of Bophuthatswana in 1977, one of many independent black homelands which only apartheid South Africa recognised. His running of the Bophuthatswana government was widely criticised and he was accused of using police brutality to suppress protests.

In 1988, he was reinstated by the apartheid government following a failed coup led by Rocky Malebana-Metsing, leader of the People’s 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 (TEC) member Mac Maharaj in March, 1994.

His statue at the Ga-Rona government complex was removed soon after the new administration under Popo Molefe took over.

-African News Agency (ANA)