Scores of African National Congress supporters converged on the University of the North stadium in Mankweng outside Polokwane on Saturday morning to pay their last respects to the late ANC MP Peter Mokaba.
Mourners included president Thabo Mbeki, former president Nelson Mandela, ANC Women’s League president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Deputy President Jacob Zuma and other senior government officials.
Mbeki and Mandela are expected to address the funeral service later in the morning.
Formal proceedings began at Mokaba’s Mankweng home at 7am, where family and friends had an opportunity to view his body before it was laid to rest.
When Northern Province (Limpopo) premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi announced that Mokaba’s coffin had arrived at the stadium, ANC supporters chanted: ”Kill the boer, kill the farmer” — a trademark Mokaba slogan.
He first used the slogan at a rally in Cape Town in honour of Chris Hani in 1993.
Mokaba died of acute pneumonia and respiratory problems on Sunday at his home in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Mokaba (43) spent more than half of his life involved in the South African liberation struggle.
His political life began in 1976 when as a matric pupil, he took part in the student uprisings that marked a critical turning point in the tempo of the anti-apartheid struggle.
He gained both popularity and notoriety on different sides of the South African divide in the early 1990s.
In 1987, Mokaba was elected president of the SA Youth Congress (Sayco) and he also was a founder of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa). In 1990, when the ANC was unbanned, Sayco was replaced by the ANC Youth League, with Mokaba as its first president.
He served as ANCYL president until 1994. When Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president in 1994, Mokaba was appointed Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
He was elected a member of the ANC’s national executive committee in 1991 and was re-elected in 1994 and 1997. He became a confidant of Madikizela-Mandela.
A few months ago, Mokaba emerged as one of the authors of a controversial ANC document supporting dissident views on Aids.
He was recently appointed to head the ANC’s preparations for the 2004 elections.
He is survived by his former wife and three children.
The funeral service is expected to end at 12.30pm, when a cortege will leave for the cemetery. – Sapa