Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a controversial South African political figure, laid to rest

JOHANNESBURG — Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a controversial South African politician and traditional minister of the Zulu nation, was laid to rest Saturday after dying at the age of 95 this week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a speech at Buthelezi’s funeral in Ulundi, located in the KwaZulu-Natal province. He commended Buthelezi for his contributions as a legislator and dedication to South Africa’s peaceful transition to democracy.

Mourners including leaders of rival political parties, government officials, the clergy and community members gathered to pay their last respects to a man who continues to divide opinion in South Africa.

Buthelezi founded the Inkatha Freedom Party in 1975, which was responsible for some of the worst political violence seen in the country in the 1980s and early 1990s.

While he was against apartheid, which was the policy of racial separation enforced by the white minority government in South Africa until 1994, Buthelezi faced criticism from liberation leaders who accused him of betraying their cause.

He headed the administrative region of Zululand, one of the “homelands” the apartheid government created to enforce the segregation policy.

PHOTOS: Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a controversial South African political figure, laid to rest

Buthelezi was one of the longest serving lawmakers in South Africa and served as a minister in Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet despite previous tensions with Mandela and the African National Congress party.

Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe, and Jacob Zuma, who are all former presidents of South Africa, were present at his funeral.

Ramaphosa stated that there were significant disagreements between Mandela and Buthelezi at certain moments in our past, but they managed to reconcile and prioritize the restoration of our nation, ultimately making peace.

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