Dignitaries at Bra Mike Mokoena's special funeral today

Free State Stars chairman Mike Mokoena will be laid to rest in Bethlehem Friday morning.
Free State Stars chairman Mike Mokoena will be laid to rest in Bethlehem Friday morning.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza and ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule are among dignitaries who are expected to attend the funeral of soccer boss Mike Mokoena in Bethlehem this morning.

Mokoena, who owned Free State Stars, died last week following a long battle with cancer. He will be sent off at a special official funeral approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week. Ramaphosa has instructed that all national flags at all government buildings in Free State fly at half-mast today.

The office of the premier said the Mokoena family have confirmed that Khoza, Magashule and former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng will attend the funeral.

Premier Sisi Ntombela thanked the president for granting Mokoens a special official funeral and paid tribute to the late football boss.

"Mike Mokoena has served the Free State and the football fraternity with the highest level of dedication and commitment. The province and the country as a whole has been robbed of an insistent philanthropist, whose work of community and sport development are visible for all to see.

"Mike Mokoena leaves behind a lasting legacy both as a businessman and football administrator, which should be preserved and honoured. May his soul rest in peace," Ntombela said.

As per the Covid-19 lockdown regulations not more than 50 people will attend the funeral.

The premier's office advised those who will be unable to attend the funeral due to the regulations to utilise various media platforms to access the proceedings.

The funeral service is expected to be broadcast live on various media platforms, including SABC TV Channel 404, as well as various community radio stations across Free State. It will also be streamed live on the provincial government Facebook page, while Lesedi FM will conduct live crossings.

Mokoena, a respected football boss and businessman, served the sport for many years and contributed immensely in the development of football in Free State.

His death on Wednesday left the soccer fraternity in distress, from fans to club bosses.

Paying tribute to Mokoena last week, the Premier Soccer League said the fallen club boss was a self-made man who shared the fruits of his toil, when he could have chosen to use it for his personal benefit and that of his family. Football also benefited immensely from his sweat.

"The Free State Stars payroll that he created and maintained, sometimes under very trying circumstances, is a source of viable livelihood for many," the PSL said in a statement.

"Bra Mike was an epitome of practicality. People do not come more practical than Mr Mokoena lived. He shone a spotlight on a little-known town in South Africa. He put QwaQwa and the town of Bethlehem on the map...

"Mike Mokoena, through his toil, left this world a better place than he found it."

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