Russel Botman laid to rest

Russel Botman has been described as a visionary whose legacy of transformation will never be forgotten.

Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk walk with Russel Botman's family into the DF Malan Memorial Centre on 5 July 2014. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Russel Botman has been described as a visionary whose legacy of transformation will never be forgotten.

Family, friends and dignitaries paid their last respects to the late Stellenbosch University rector and vice-chancellor at his funeral earlier today.

Botman passed away in his sleep at his Stellenbosch home last Friday night at the age of 61.

High-profile mourners attended the funeral service at the DF Malan Memorial Centre this morning including former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, former minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor.

Manuel described Botman as a "visionary who is worth his weight in gold."

He said Botman played a critical role in transformation.

His sentiments were shared by Pandor.

Western Cape premier Helen Zille also attended the service.

She commended the rector for his vision.

"His death was untimely as it came at a time when he was developing the university. His role was central to many developments in the Western Cape."

Botman was first appointed as rector in 2007 and was reappointed for a second five year term in 2012.

He was also a serving Director of Higher Education in South Africa, Senior Vice President of the Association of African Universities, Chairperson of the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 Board and a director at Media24.

The Bloemfontein born professor, who is also an ordained minister, has several accolades to his name, including an honorary doctorate by Hope College in Michigan, USA for leadership in higher education.

He was scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland next month.

Pictures by EWN's Carmel Loggenberg.