Phillip Tobias mentored the world - Mbeki

Professor Phillip Tobias was laid to rest at the West Park Jewish Cemetery on Sunday.

Professor Phillip Tobias was laid to rest at the West Park Jewish Cemetery on 10 June 2012. Picture: France24.com

JOHANNESBURG - Professor Phillip Tobias was laid to rest at the West Park Jewish Cemetery in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The renowned academic and scientist, aged 86, died after a long illness on Thursday.

He dedicated his life to the study of human ancestry at Wits University and the Cradle of Humankind.

Tobias was given a traditional Jewish send-off.

Academics and politicians, including former President Thabo Mbeki and cabinet ministers Tokyo Sexwale and Naledi Pandor, attended the funeral.

Tobias was buried in a simple coffin which had his name handwritten in blue.

After the funeral procession, Mbeki hailed the three-time Nobel Prize nominee as a great human being.

He said Tobias not only taught students at Wits University to apply they minds, but also mentored the world.

A memorial service for Tobias, one of the founding fathers of palaeoanthropology, will be held at Wits University next week, its spokesperson Shirona Patel said.