A call has been made to rename the San settlement, Platfontein outside Kimberley in honour of the late Mario Mahongo. The call was made by Sol Plaatjie municipality executive mayor Mangaliso Matika at the Mahongo’s funeral on Saturday.

Mahongo died in a car accident three weeks ago. Mahongo held various leadership roles in Khoisan organisation including as the chairmanship of the !Xun council of elders, the chairperson of the South African San Institute and vice-chair of the South African San Council.

Memorial service of the late !Xun leader Mario Mahongo at Platfontein, near Kimberley. Picture by Puleng Modupe

Thousands of mourners gathered at Platfontein to pay their last respects. The late !Xun leader was described as a fearless leader, a pillar of the community who fought for the recognition of the Khoisan community.

Speakers at the funeral spoke about his contribution to improving the lives of the San community that will be remembered and will form part of his rich legacy.

Sol Plaatjie municipality executive mayor Mangaliso Matika says he has lost a comrade, father and a fighter for the cause of the Khoisan communities with the death of Mahongo.

“It’s very difficult to speak about Mario Mahongo – a legend, hero – who has played role in the community. He was a builder within the community. I think his name should be rename to Platfontein as part of his legacy.”

The Khwe traditional leader, Chief Kamama Mukua says Mahongo was very instrumental in the development of the !Xun and Khwe community.

Mahongo held crucial talks with the late former President Nelson Mandela that led to the establishment of Platfontein as the permanent home for his community. Mukua says Mahongo also worked tirelessly to get recognition for the San traditional leaders.

“We worked so hard to get recognition of Khoisan leader…. But he won’t get to taste the fruits of his work…”

Speaking at the funeral, the South African San Council’s secretary, Colin Louw said it has lost a champion for the cause of the Khoisan communities. Louw says Mahongo was a legendary leader who always seems to find a solution to a problem.

Colin Louw says the loss of Mahongo’s leadership skills spreads from Platfontein to the rest of South Africa as well as Namibia and Botswana.

Family spokesperson, Antonio Saboa, says Mahongo dead left a void in the family as he was not only a leader for his community but also a breadwinner. Antonio says that Mohongo loved his family.

Before his death Mahongo was also involved in a project to gather Khoisan artefacts and knowledge of plants from the site of the Square Kilometre Array near Carnavon. He was very excited about the project as artefacts and different plants were discovered during some of their first walk throughs.

Mahongo is survived by his wife, four children and ten grandchildren.