Mangope statue a star attraction

Dimakatso Mosala and Tumiso Mosala admire the statue of Lucas Manyane Mangope at Motswedi.
Dimakatso Mosala and Tumiso Mosala admire the statue of Lucas Manyane Mangope at Motswedi.

Lucas Manyane Mangope remains a "towering figure" even in death in his village of Motswedi, outside Zeerust, in North West.

His imposing statue at the Bahurutshe Boo Manyane tribal office attests to the ex-Bophuthatswana leader's stature in his community.

Mangope, who was the tribe's chief by royal lineage, died on Thursday at the age of 94 after an undisclosed illness.

His monument, probably the last one standing, was relocated from the GaRona government complex in Mmabatho, Mahikeng, after the democratic elections in 1994.

A period of mourning in his village has been declared to last until Mangope's burial.

As per tradition in the village, groups of residents converge on Mangope's house daily and form a circle as they pay respects to the royal family.

Parties and playing of loud music will be forbidden during the mourning period.

While the former bantustan leader is despised by others for collaborating with the apartheid system, many in his village and other parts of North West continue to hold him in high esteem.

Bahurutshe Boo Manyane tribal office speaker, Tumelo Mokotedi, said the statue might boost the local economy.

"It's only now that people are showing interest in the man. I never knew they respected him this much," he said, expressing plans to position the statue as a tourist attraction in the area.

"It's still early days, but we'll have to sit down as the other tribal authority and members of the royal family and see on how we can do this," he said.

Mangope family spokesman Bathoeng Mangope said more people have shown interest in the statue since his kinsman's departure.

"We are anticipating many people coming here in Motswedi to see the statue.

"You know what happens is that, when you are alive, people don't show interest but when one passes on, people stand up and show respect.

"This shows we don't appreciate each other while [we are] still alive, that is our human weakness," Bathoeng said.

A 74-year-old Keatlaretse Sebogodi said she was devastated by Mangope's passing.

"He did so many things for us," she said.

Twin brothers Itumeleng and Tumelo Moletsane described Mangope as "a great man".

"We heard that during his time as the president [of Bophuthatswana], people were going for military training or became teachers after matric. Now, we have nothing and are unemployed," Itumeleng said.

Mangope's domestic worker Dineo Mabe said the bantustan leader was "respectful" to his last moments".

"He died in my hands. He loved and greeted everyone, showing outmost respect," Mabe said.

Mangope will be buried on Saturday at Motswedi.